Tips for Parents

Here are some tips on how to help your student with homework:

Set a Regular Time for Homework
Having a regular time to do homework helps children to finish assignments. The best schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one household may not work in another. Of course, a good schedule depends in part on your child's age as well as her specific needs. For instance, one child may do homework best in the afternoon, completing homework first or after an hour of play and another may do it best after dinner. However, don't let your child leave homework to do just before bedtime. Your child's outside activities, such as sports or music lessons, may mean that you need a flexible homework schedule. Your child may study after school on some days and after dinner on others. If there isn't enough time to finish homework, your child may need to drop some outside activity. Let her know that homework is a high priority.

Pick a Place
Your child's homework area doesn't have to be fancy. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many children, the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine. The area should have good lighting and it should be fairly quiet. Allow the child to make this space their own.

Remove Distractions
Turn off the TV and discourage your child from making and receiving telephone calls and text messages during homework time. (A call to a classmate about an assignment, however, may be helpful.) Some children work well with quiet background music, but loud noise from the CD player, radio or TV is not OK. 

Set a Good Example
Show your child that the skills he is learning are an important part of the things he will do as an adult! Let him see you reading books, newspapers and computer screens. Help your child to use everyday routines to support the skills he is learning-for example, teach him to play word and math games; help him to look up information about things in which he is interested-singers, athletes, cars, space travel and so forth; and talk with him about what he sees and hears as the two of you walk through the neighborhood, go shopping at the mall or visit a zoo or museum.

Monitor Time Spent Viewing TV and Playing Video Games
American children on average spend far more time watching TV or playing video games than they do completing homework. In many homes, more homework gets done when TV viewing and game time is limited. Once you and your child have worked out a homework schedule, take time to discuss how much TV and what programs she can watch. It's worth noting that television can be a learning tool. Look for programs that relate to what your child is studying in school, such as programs on history or science or dramatizations of children's literature. When you can, watch shows with your child and discuss what you learned.

Be Available
If the teacher has made it known that students are to do homework on their own, limit your assistance to your child to assuring that assignments are clear and that necessary supplies are provided. Too much parent involvement can make children dependent-and takes away from the value of homework as a way for children to become independent and responsible. Some teachers want parents to monitor homework closely, whereas others want them simply to check to make sure the assignment is completed on time. Don’t hesitate to ask your teacher.

Be Interested and Interesting
Talk about school and learning activities in family conversations. Ask your child what was discussed in class that day. If she doesn't have much to say, try another approach. For example, ask her to read aloud a story she wrote or to talk about what she found out from a science experiment.

Attend school activities, such as parent-teacher conferences, plays, concerts, open houses and sports events. If you can, volunteer to help in your child's classroom or at special events. Getting to know some of your child's classmates and their parents builds a support network for you and your child. It also shows your child that his home and school are a team. Go Wildcats!

Here are some tips on practical ways to help your student succeed:

Help Your Child Get Organized
Help your child to make a schedule or keep a planner and put it in a place where you'll see it often. Writing out assignments will get him/her used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when. A backpack will make it easier for your child to carry homework to and from school. Providing homework folders/binders in which your child can tuck his assignments for safekeeping also can help him to stay organized.

Talk About Assignments
Talking and asking questions can help your child to think through and assignment and break it down into small, manageable parts. Here are some questions to ask:
1. Do you understand what you’re supposed to do?
2. Do you need help understanding how to do the assignment?
3. Do you have everything you need to do the assignment?
4. Does your answer make sense to you? Show me! –Students love to share their work.

Watch for Frustration
If your child shows signs of frustration; let your child take a break. Encourage him and let him see that you know he can do the work! Sometimes students just need someone to believe in them just like adults do. Having your support and encouragement is very powerful to your child.

Give Praise
People of all ages respond to praise. And children need encouragement from the people whose opinions they value most—their families. "Good first draft of your book report!" or "You've done a great job" can go a long way toward motivating your child to complete assignments. Children also need to know when they haven't done their best work. Make criticism constructive, however. Instead of telling a fifth/sixth grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" say, "The teacher will understand your ideas better if you use your best handwriting." Then give praise when the child finishes a neat version.

Here are some tips on how to work with your student's teacher;

Tell the Teacher about Your Concerns
You may want to contact the teacher if

  • Your child refuses to do her assignments, even though you've tried hard to get her to do them;
  • The instructions are unclear;
  • You can't seem to help your child get organized to finish the assignments;
  • You can't provide needed supplies or materials;
  • Neither you nor your child can understand the purpose of the assignments;
  • The assignments are too hard or too easy;
  • Your child has missed school and needs to make up assignments.

Work with the Teacher
Continuing communication with teachers is very important in solving problems. As you work with your child's teacher, here are some important things to remember:

1. Talk with each of your child’s teachers early in the school year.
2. Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a problem in school.
3. Request and schedule a meeting ahead of time with the teacher to discuss problems or progress. Teachers are happy to meet with you.
4. Approach the teacher with a cooperative spirit.
5. During your meeting with the teacher, explain what you think is going on and why.
6. Work out a way to solve or lessen the problem cooperatively. There can always be a happy compromise!
7. Make sure communication is clear from both parties.

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