The goal of homework is to help students remember and understand what they learned in school that day. For children ages 5 through 7, it can also help teach them independence, responsibility, and time-management and planning skills, all keys to success in the real world.
A little homework can go a long way and 10 to 20 minutes each day for children in kindergarten through second grade is seen as most effective, according to the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
Here are some successful homework habits to get your children on the right path:
1. Set the stage. Your children need a quiet, well-lit, clutter- and distraction-free spot to do their homework. This should be the same place every day, whether it is at the kitchen table or at their desk in their room. That means the television is shut off, even for you. In fact, take this time to work on a quiet task of your own, whether it’s paying bills, reading the newspaper, or planning the next day. Make sure all the materials your children need to complete their homework are within arm’s reach, including pencils, paper, crayons, or anything else.
2. Time it right. Homework for young children should be done when your child gets home from school, while the information is still fresh in their minds and when they have ample energy. Have your kids eat a little snack and talk about their day with you and then have them start their homework. Schedule the extra-curricular activities for later in the day so kids can get their homework done first. For beginning learners, now is the time to establish that homework is more important than dance class, soccer practice, karate, or the long list of activities your kids may be involved in outside of school. Remember, they may be too tired after their activities to be able to focus on their work. Bedtime is never the time to rush through homework.
3. It’s not your homework, it’s theirs. Parents need to be involved in homework to see what their children are learning and how well they know what they need to know. Being nearby while they do their homework also allows you to monitor your children’s frustration and encourage breaks when and if they are needed. However, be sure not to do the homework for your children, but guide them if they are struggling. You want them to get that feeling of pride and accomplishment on their own.
4. Get excited and be positive. Let your children know how grown up it is for them to have homework and how proud you are of them. Try to instill in them that it is “fun” to be able to do the assigned tasks. If you view homework as a chore and something that interferes with your personal schedule, your children will mimic that behavior. Let them show you their work, praise them for finishing their homework, and be encouraging. It will make a difference.