en españolLos diez mejores consejos sobre los deberes escolares
Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
Q: What suggestions do you have for helping my son become more organized about his schoolwork?
A: I have several! Here are some ideas to try.
Set up a homework/study calendar. Look for one that has a lot of space for writing. Encourage your son to use a red pen to mark the dates of tests or due dates for important projects. Then have him use a green pen for activities leading up to the due date. For example, spelling test may be entered on Friday and the spelling homework activities leading up to the test may be entered in green.
Make a home-study kit. A lot of homework time is wasted looking for pencils and paper. Having materials on hand makes being organized much easier, so put the necessary tools in place. A shoebox will do, and I recently made a model home study kit using an easy-to-put-together box from a discount store. Keep the following in your son's kit (let him help you shop for these items if he's interested):
- paper: lined, blank, and graphing
- pencils and pens
- marking pens
File fix-up. Have your son set up a file folder for each of his academic subjects. He can do this with regular office-supply folders or make his own folders with construction paper. He can then label each folder and only keep important papers. For example, it is a good idea to look at old spelling tests to prepare for comprehensive tests at the end of the semester. Also, it is helpful to keep adding all the research for a paper to a folder so everything he needs will be in one place when he starts to write.
Teach him a 5-minute focus exercise. Before your son starts his schoolwork, encourage him to take 5 minutes to focus on what he needs to do. This can take the form of writing down what he will do. For example:
1. Math problems __
2. Look up information for report __
3. Study spelling words __
4. Read __
Then he can check off each task as completed. It feels great to check off items on a to-do list.