On its Homeroom blog, the U.S. Department of Education recently offered five “hot homework tips for parents,” including the following:
• Set up a quiet, well-lit area for your child to complete his or her homework
• When your child is focusing on homework, join him or her in a similar focused activity.
• Teach your child how to manage his or her time.
• Encourage independence by stepping back and not hovering—and provide guidance, not just answers.
• Teach your child how to identify the difference between the hard homework questions and the easy ones.
This week, Dr. Raymond Huntington, founder and chairman of Huntington Learning Center, offered several more. “The U.S. Department of Education’s suggestions are great ones and consistent with tips we also give our students and parents,” said Dr. Huntington. “There are a few other things to keep in mind about the homework routine — and how parents can help make the most of study and homework time.”
1. Focus on learning and effort, not grades. Emphasize trying one’s best over achieving certain test scores or grades. The goal of homework is to help a student understand the concepts being taught, not just keep him or her busy.
2. Teach students good study habits, such as staying organized, taking breaks, studying in mini-sessions (instead of cramming marathons) and reviewing material multiple times before a test.
3. Whenever possible, apply homework concepts to real life. Help your student see the practical application of what he or she learns. For example, show your child the many places he or she needs math to function in day-to-day life — and how math is important for different types of professions in which he or she might be interested one day.
4. Help your child become a good planner. The U.S. Department of Education suggests that parents create a schedule to help their children become skilled managers of their time. Parents can take this further to help their child learn to break down big assignments into small steps. Teach your child to effectively use a planner as an organizational tool. Show him or her how to keep daily checklists to stay on task — and avoid falling into the procrastination trap.
5. Make homework a priority. At home, make it clear that school and homework are important and that you expect your child to work hard at all academic endeavors. Ask your child often about school and what he or she is learning. During homework time, be on hand for questions. Most importantly, let your student know that you care about his or her success and happiness in school and are willing to help whenever he or she may need it.