After a summer of family vacations and hours of playing outside, the last thing your kids want to hear when school starts up is the phrase, “Do your homework.” These days, even kids just beginning elementary school have daily homework, and as a parent, it’s your responsibility to see that the work gets done. There are plenty of things you can do to make your child’s study time go smoothly.
- Create a Well-Stocked Study Area: Distractions are one of the most difficult things about doing homework, and setting up a study area helps avoid distractions. Get your kids involved, ideally by having each child set up his own desk and stock it with pencils in a fun cup, crayons, colored pencils and other supplies nearby, and of course, plenty of paper. If your kids have ownership over the process of setting up the study area, they’ll be more excited about using it. If you use the dining table for homework, consider getting a rolling cart of supplies to transform the space at homework time.
- Vote on a Consistent Homework Time: Kids thrive on routines, and having them sit down to do homework at the same time each day can help you avoid struggles over the way they see their after-school time going. Before the school year starts, decide together when homework will happen each day, ideally building in time after school for getting a snack, playing a little, and unwinding before homework. To prevent sloppily rushing through work to get back to playing, have an end time for the homework slot and have your kids read age-appropriate books during any remaining time.
- Provide Encouragement and Lightheartedness: Homework doesn’t have to be boring, but rather, it can be a great time to connect with your kids and be involved in their education. Be available during homework time to help with questions and keep them on track, but focus on doing so in a way that’s positive, not negative. Be quick to point out what they’re doing well and be attentive to times when your child needs to take a break to spin around on a chair or listen to a funny joke before getting back to business.
Managing homework time isn’t about being a dictator, but rather about setting up healthy systems. Remember that every child is unique, and you can always tweak systems to work for your child’s specific needs. Your job is to provide the stability and encouragement to support your child’s studying.