10 rules for kids homework success

Brace yourself: It's nearly that time again. Time to crack the books and start setting the alarms.

As summer's lazy days give way to fall's inevitable bustle, consider embracing the change of seasons a bit earlier this year. Right now - before the first school bell rings - set up your kids homework area.

For best results, studying needs to become part of the daily fabric of your child's day. Here are 10 tips to help ensure kids' homework success.

  1  kids homework should take place at the same time each day.

Doing homework should be part of the daily regimen. Otherwise, it either becomes a daily battle or else it's not done when bedtime rolls around.

Times can be adjusted for soccer practice, piano lessons, etc. But even then, have a routine: For example, Susie usually does homework every day from 3 to 4.

On Tuesdays, the routine becomes piano lessons after school from 3 to 4 and then homework from 4 to 5.

  2  homework happens in the same place each day.

Designate one spot in the house for each kid's study hall. It should be in a quiet corner far from distractions. Depending on the child, however, that special place might need to be somewhere you can keep an eye on things. Not every kid works intently when shut away in a bedroom full of toys and computer games.

  3  homework happens in a specific homework area.

Ideally, each child should have a desk, but specific furniture is hardly necessary. A friend's daughter likes to study at the kitchen counter while mom cooks. Another child works at the dining room table. Wherever the child studies, she will need a large, flat surface and good lighting. 

  4  tools of the trade.

Keep a drawer or basket of school supplies nearby so she doesn't have to jump up and down every time she needs to erase or staple something. She will also need a file drawer or bucket to file papers and ongoing projects. Older kids will need access to a computer, too.

  5  just for reference.

Designate a nearby shelf for a dictionary, a thesaurus, grammar book, and other references.

  6  keep it down.

During homework time, enforce the code of silence. No TV. No music. Impose an hour of quiet time on younger kids.

  7  help is at hand.

Be available to answer questions when your child is studying. Check the homework when finishes. Make sure she didn't just rush through.

  8  divide and conquer.

Teach your child how to manage long-term projects by dividing them into smaller units. Get out the calendar and plan times that she will complete these units. Schedule them on the calendar.

  9  time management skills.

If your child has many activities during the week, use weekends to the best advantage.

If he has to do a chapter of spelling each week, for example, he might be able to work a little ahead on a rainy Sunday and get a bit of a cushion.

If the child is frenetically busy every day, you need to impose some time management skills on his schedule.

  10  eliminate TV and gaming during the week.

If there are no TV or gaming systems to be enjoyed after homework is finished, kids may be more inclined to devote the full time necessary to complete homework.

If the kids know you're serious about homework, they'll get serious, too. Set aside a lot of free time on weekends for them to hang out with their friends and goof off. But keep weekdays tightly structured.

› Kids Homework: 10 Rules for Success


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