In the early years, evening schoolwork can be fun and even endearing…read ten minutes about Jan and Dan, and then study five spelling words that each have only three letters. Those were the days! Suddenly, around third grade, everything seems to change. There are two page essays and those dreaded SCIENCE PROJECTS! Some children manage to take it all in stride, while others tend to agonize over every assignment. There are some great strategies to help make homework time more pleasant and successful.
– Make sure that you never take over the responsibility of your child’s work as your own. You already put in your years as a student; don’t try to live through all of that a second time! Your role now is to guide and teach. In many years as a teacher, I noticed the most successful students had parents who cared and helped, but didn’t hover and stress about their child’s work.
– One of the best lessons you can teach your child is time management, and the planning necessary for large projects and exam preparation. A child staying up late to write an essay will stress out the whole family. Show them how to put smaller goals on a calendar leading up to the due date. Let them experience the peace and contentment of finishing tasks on time and even early.
– It’s okay to offer rewards for hard work. This is not the same as bribing a child to do what you want. Small rewards can be useful incentives for students who are hard workers but seem to be really struggling in a certain subject or with staying on task for a long time. Is Math difficult? Lay an M&M after each problem to eat when that problem is done. Never get an A on a test? How about studying together, then go on a special dinner date if the grade is achieved. If an essay can be completed a day early, rather than 10pm the night before it’s due, take your child out for ice cream. In the real world, hard work pays off; let your child experience those same benefits.
– Create a positive working environment. Make sure your son or daughter has everything they need to succeed right at their fingertips…pencils, eraser, internet access, no distractions. Sometimes it might be a good idea to limit cell phone use during homework time, too.
– Finally, use more positive encouragement than nagging criticism. Find their successes and praise them. Let your daughter know that you believe in her, and you know she will do a great job. Tell your son that you’re proud of his hard work, and you believe that he can handle the greater challenges of more work. Let your children know you will partner with them to help them be successful, and then enjoy the greater peace together!