Each year many families ask questions about how they can best help their children with their homework. In thinking about this, it is helpful to consider the purposes of homework. While the specific objectives of assignments vary, there are a few common objectives we try to attain through regular homework assignments. Some of these include opportunities for students to:
- practice what is taught in class
- demonstrate comprehension of material taught in class
- reflect on what they have learned in class
- develop independent work habits
- prepare for what will be taught next
- review previously learned material
Given these multiple purposes, we have developed the following list of suggestions. Please feel free to call with any remaining questions and certainly pass on any additional suggestions!
Motivation and Academic Weaknesses
Many children's difficulties with homework are related to poor organizational skills. These are some ways you can help:
- Help your child to clean out his/her book bag and binder or folders at least once a week (more often if your child has greater difficulties in this area). Take out old papers and sort them into the binder/folders or put aside, as needed.
- Ensure your child has a consistent place to do homework and to keep school related materials.
- Make sure that sufficient time is built into your child's daily schedule to allow for homework completion. You know your child best. If your child needs a longer break after school before beginning homework, brief breaks between assignments, or free time after all work is completed, plan his/her schedule accordingly.
- If your child frequently loses his/her homework, make sure he/she has a homework folder in which to put handouts and loose papers.
- Make sure your child writes down homework assignments for each class. Have him/her check off each task as it is completed. For Lower School students, use the Homework Hotline to make sure your child has accurately recorded assignments.
- Create checklists for details that your child has difficulty remembering. These can include organizing materials for school, chores that need to be done, or steps in homework completion.
- Have a sheet of paper (perhaps hanging on the refrigerator) where your child can write the date that any tests or big assignments are due. Help your child to check this list periodically.
- When your child says that homework is completed, check to make sure all assignments are done and that homework is where it should be, ready to turn in to teachers during advisory the next day.
Motivation and Academic Weaknesses
Other difficulties are due to academic weaknesses or poor motivation. These are some ways you can help:
- Consider reading the same book that your child is reading, discussing it together as you read.
- If your child is having trouble understanding the reading material, help him/her by taking turns reading it aloud. Pause periodically to make sure the material is understood. If you do this, make sure the teacher knows that your child is finding the reading difficult.
- If your child has difficulty with writing assignments, help him/her to brainstorm ideas before beginning to write. Ask your child to read his/her writing aloud to aid in editing.
- If your child says an assignment is too difficult, make sure he/she knows what is expected. If you understand the task, try to explain it. Give your child the option of briefly calling a friend to clarify the assignment. Be sure your child makes several attempts before giving up.
- If your child has an upcoming test, please help him/her to study. This may involve using note cards to review or match concepts or definitions, testing him/her verbally, having him/her write down definitions from memory, or making up sentences together. Help your child to memorize terms with which he/she is having trouble. Ask him/her to look at and think about the word and what associations come to mind. Categorize the terms to make them easier to remember. Have your child use colors or illustrations to help get a clearer picture of an idea.
- Have your child spend some time each evening doing independent reading with books that he/she enjoys. Do not be concerned if the reading level of this material is easier than you think it should be.
- Some children are more productive if they have company. If possible, consider reading a book or doing quiet work while your child is completing his/her homework. Try to limit attractive activities if it is during your child's designated work time.
- Recognize your child's achievements. Use praise, free time, or privileges in response to homework completion, particularly if it is a difficult assignment.
- If your child has ongoing difficulties with one or more subjects, please contact your child's advisor or classroom teachers.