SET UP A HOMEWORK SCHEDULE
Children benefit from a set homework schedule. Select a time each day based on your child's learning style and needs. Consider: Does your child need a break after school? Is your child better off getting right to work and getting homework out of the way? Is your child too tired after dinner to get starter? Post and adhere to the schedule as realistically as possible. Do not allow interuptions duirng homework time. Phone calls, texts, TV, and everything else can wait intil the work is completed. After a while, this wil lbecome a natural part of your child's schedule!
RANK THE ASSIGNMENTS
For some children, the decision about what to do first becomes a major chore. They may dwell over this choice for a long time. Other children use horizontal perspective. This occurs when everything takes on the same level of importance and no priority is seen.
Suggest which assignment to do first and so on. Many children tend to use a quantity orientation (number of assignments left) rather than a qualitative orientation (difficulty of assignment). This means that if they have five things to do, have them finish the four easy ones first. In their eyes, they have only one assignment left even though it may be a more difficult task.
DON'T HOVER NEXT TO YOUR CHILD DURING THE HOMEWORK SESSION
This can be a very big problem for some parents. All Parents employing this technique are not only setting themselves up for tremendous frustration and anger, but they are also creating "learned helplessness."
Many parents will say that their children cannot work unless they are sitting next to them. It is not that many children are unable to work, but that they choose not to work. The work stoppage on the part of children occurs when a parent attempts to break away and no longer provides them with undivided attention. This "dependency" is very unhealthy because it is not imitated in the classroom. Consequently, such children may put off doing their classwork and bring the unfinished work home. In this way they may gain an adult's full attention at home.
If you are already locked into this type of situation, you should not break away all at once. You should desensitize children a little at a time. Sit at the end of the table for a few days. Then slowly increase the distance between yourself and the child's work until he or she is working alone.
CHECK CORRECT PROBLEMS FIRST
Parents sometimes have a habit of "zeroing in" on the incorrect problems. Next time your child brings you a paper to check, focus first on how well he or she did on the correct problems, spelling words, and so on. For the answers that are incorrect say, "I bet if you go back and check these over you may get a different answer." Now the child will go back and redo the problems without any animosity or feelings of inadequacy. If you focus first on the incorrect problems and become angry, when the child returns to the work area he or she will likely be more involved in dealing with the loss of parental approval rather than finishing the task.
You may want to check small groups of problems at a time. Many children benefit from immediate gratification. Have your child do five problems and then come back to you for checking. Zero in on the correct ones, and after they are checked send the child back to do the next group. In this way the child gets immediate feedback and approval and the necessary motivation for the next assignment. Additionally, if the child is doing the assignment incorrectly, the error can be detected and explained, preventing the child from having to redo the entire assignment.
BE AWARE OF NEGATIVE NONVERBAL MESSAGES
Nonverbal communication is a large part of overall communication. Many messages, especially negative ones, can be communicated easily without your awareness. Grimaces, body stiffness, sighs, raised eyebrows, and other types of body language are all nonverbal responses. If children are sensitive, they will pick up these messages, which can only add to the tension of the homework relationship. This is extremely important with younger children who cannot distinguish between loss of parental approval and loss of love. Such a state can only add stress to their ability to perform. Do be aware of your nonverbal communication and send supportive messages.
AVOID FINISHING ASSIGNMENTS FOR YOUR CHILD
Some parents will complete an entire assignment for their children. While the parents' motivation may be helping their child finish a difficult assignment, the end result may be very destructive. Children tend to feel inadequate when a parent finishes homework. First, they feel a sense of failure. Second, they feel a sense of inadequacy since they can never hope to do the assignment as well as an adult at home. This can only foster increased dependency and feelings of helplessness on the part of children.
If your child cannot complete an assignment, and they have honestly tried, write the teacher a note explaining the circumstances. Most teachers will understand the situation and work with you to support the child.
Following basic guidelines when helping with homework can result in a more rewarding situation for both parents and children.