Homework is an important part of the learning process and helps your student to better retain information that they learned in school. Homework also helps to build a student’s sense of independence and responsibility by teaching them how to set schedules and manage time. Here are five helpful tips that will make sure your student is getting the most out of their homework!
1) Consistency is everything – set a “homework time.” Educators universally agree that a consistent schedule for homework time is the best route for students. This way, your student will get themselves into a mindset that a certain time is designated for academics. You can help your student to select a good time slot for their nightly homework assignments. This way, they know ahead of schedule what time needs to be dedicated to homework. Some students prefer to do homework immediately when they get home from school, whereas others may like to have a snack first or take a break before starting their assignments. Ask your student what they find is best for them, and make that time “homework time!”
2) Minimize distractions with a homework-friendly area. Like all of us, students sometimes get distracted. However, you can help to minimize these distractions by making sure they have a designated homework area. Although some students might prefer to set up their homework in front of the TV, this is not the best idea. Recent surveys of 8-18 year old students and found that nearly a third admitted to watching television or using cell phones and other electronic devices while doing homework. Distracted students retain less information from their homework, and therefore require more time later when studying for exams. The best place for homework is a quiet area free of distractions with plenty of extra materials (pens, pencils, paper, etc.) readily available.
3) Help them plan for bigger assignments or projects. The idea of a looming project often leads students to avoid the assignment until the last minute, at which point they are forced to either “cram” or rush through the work. You can help prevent these situations by staying up to date on what big assignments your student has coming up. Teachers often provide a syllabus at the beginning of the year that outlines the larger projects throughout the course. By spacing the workload apart, your student will be far less stressed about large assignments and will end up retaining more knowledge about what they have learned.
4) Discourage perfectionism. Students will often get hung up on one question or problem, preventing them from moving forward with their assignment. You can remind your student that the goal of homework is to practice and improve, not necessarily to be perfect. In fact, if a student is struggling with a certain problem or section, there’s nothing wrong with skipping it for now. Most test-taking strategy guides encourage skipping difficult questions and returning to them at the end of the exam. Homework is no different! Encourage your student to attempt challenging problems, and have them make a note (or a star next to the problem) so they can remember to ask about it in class. Most teachers are not looking for perfection when assigning homework, but rather that the student put in a genuine effort and attempted the assignment.
5) Praise their work efforts and achievements. Positive reinforcement and praise is always essential to keeping your student motivated. It’s important to make sure your student knows that you recognize their efforts, and by giving them praise and encouragement, you are giving your student an incredible amount of motivation to keep trying! As we always say, every child is different – we want to encourage students based on their own personal growth and accomplishments, as this will give them the self-confidence they need to succeed.