Let’s talk homework: Where, when and how are you going to get it done

It’s the start of the school year. A chance to start fresh. If the homework was a battle all last year, figure out ways to bring down the stress with these tips:

Trish Morrison helps her daughter Delilah with homework while her husband Homero Garcia preps dinner in the kitchen. Laura Skelding/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Figure out where is the best place in the house to do homework. For younger kids, it might be the kitchen table or a space in a common area. For older kids, they might need a space in their bedrooms for maximum concentration. If they are in their room, let them know you might be checking on them (especially if they are the kid who plays video games instead of doing homework or daydreams constantly).

Clear off a desk or table. Make sure there is good light there and a comfortable chair. Set up school supplies such as notebook paper, pencils, pens, colored pens and glue sticks. If the kids need a computer, is there one that can be used there?

Get your desk space ready for homework. Container Store

Create an organization system for important papers that will be referenced throughout the school year, homework that needs to be done and homework that has been done and needs to be turned in, and papers that need a parent signature.

Outsource the frustration. Sometimes you and your child working together on getting homework done is not a good thing. For older kids, find out when each teacher has office hours. For younger kids, consider scheduling an older kid or adult tutor to come and help them get homework done. They’ll make it fun.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these suggestions:

  • Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework starting at a young age. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
  • Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into choices about participation in after school activities.
  • Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
  • Supervise computer and Internet use.
  • By high school, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask students to submit homework electronically and perform other tasks on a computer. If your child doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, work with teachers and school administration to develop appropriate accommodations.
  • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
  • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with your child’s teacher for recommendations on how you or another person can help your child at home or at school. If you have concerns about the assignments your child is receiving, talk with their teacher.
  • If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
  • For general homework problems that cannot be worked out with the teacher, a tutor may be considered.
  • Some children need extra help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
  • Some children may need help remembering their assignments. Work with your child and their teacher to develop an appropriate way to keep track of their assignments – such as an assignment notebook.

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