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Tips for Helping with Homework

Education experts say homework should not be a negotiable item. It is important. Not only does it help students learn better, but homework reinforces what they cover in school. It also improves their reading skills, raises their grades, and teaches them to be responsible and self-disciplined. The following are some ways you can help your child do better in school:

Establish a regular time for doing homework, preferably while you are home. Don't call it homework time, otherwise your child can say, "But I don't have any homework today," or "I did it in school.” Call it a study period, or quiet time. Establish firmly that he always has some homework, reading, writing letters, organizing notes, or preparing for tomorrow.

Everyday ask your child to show you his assignment pad or sheet. Look to see what his assignments are without giving any criticism. You may want to verify that the assignments are accurate and complete by sending a note with your child for his teachers to read. For example, the note can say: "Please initial Johnny's assignment pad when he shows it to you. Initial it only if it is accurate and complete. This will help me monitor his work. Thank you.” Make sure you tell your child to write "NONE " if there is no assignment given and still have the teacher initial it. Ask your child to follow this procedure everyday.

Have your child show you all his finished homework assignments. Look the work over and hold him responsible for completing all assignments neatly. If he studied for a test, ask him what he studied. Your goal is to encourage your child by demonstrating a consistent interest in looking at his work. It is important to do this everyday.

Encourage your child's independence. Don't do your child's homework for him, but be available for consultation. Check homework for completeness and neatness. If your child does not have homework, ask the teacher why.

Make appropriate time limits. Does your child have an open homework schedule? In other words does he keep working on homework until he finishes regardless of what time it is? Such an arrangement encourages kids to dilly dally and be distracted from staying on task. Instead use a closed schedule. In other words enforce a strict time limit so that after a certain hour no more working on homework is allowed. This will keep your child on task.

Develop a system of immediate reinforcement (rewards and unpleasant consequences) for your child's compliance or lack of compliance with your expectations concerning his daily quiet time. Consequences that begin and end in one day are best. For example, “After you complete your quiet time, then you may use the telephone.”

Try to be home during homework hours if at all possible.

Ensure that television is out of view for your child during homework time.

Answer your child's phone calls and tell his friends that he'll call them back later.

Help control noisy brothers and sisters from bothering your child during homework time.

Motivate your child by reminding him often of this truth: Success comes from effort, not merely ability.

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