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 an area to do homework for each child in your home.
For best results, studying needs to become part of the daily fabric of your child's day. He gets up in the morning, brushes his teeth and goes to school.
He comes home in the afternoon, eats a snack and he hits the books in his own special place. None of this routine is ever open for discussion or debate. Here are my top 10 tips for kids and homework success stories:
Getting homework done should be part of the daily regimen. Otherwise, it either becomes a daily battle or else it's not done when bedtime rolls around. If homework is part of the routine, you won't have to renegotiate it daily.
When is the best time to do homework? The answer depends on each child's daily schedule, and can be adjusted for soccer practice, piano lessons, etc. But even then, have a routine: For example, Susie will do 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.
Designate one spot in the house for each kid to get homework done. 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 with homework to do works intently when shut away in a bedroom full of toys and computer games.
Ideally, each child should have a desk, but specific furniture is hardly necessary. A friend's daughter likes to do homework 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.
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.
Designate a nearby shelf for a dictionary, a thesaurus, grammar book, and other references.
During homework time, enforce the code of silence. No TV. No music. Impose an hour of quiet time on younger kids.
Be available to answer questions when your child is studying. Check the homework when finishes. Make sure she didn't just rush through.
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.
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.
Establish a TV-free zone during the week. If the kids knows there are no TV or computer games to be enjoyed after homework, he may be more inclined to devote a little more time to 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.