Parents are a big influence on a child's success in school! By creating a home environment of encouragement, patience, and presence, children learn valuable lessons about the important process of working hard (ex: taking a little time each night to study for a quiz) over an exclusive focus on the outcome of success (ex: getting that desired A on the quiz). It can also be utilized as quality time together with your child after a busy day.
With these ideas in mind, homework time is not just a time to get it done, but an opportunity to really instill valuable lessons and togetherness...which go far beyond the assignment itself. Here are some tried and true tips for success at homework time:
1. Give your child an opportunity to snack, play, read, or just run around for 30-45 minutes right after school. Remember, your child has been learning all day so naturally will crave this recharging time before settling in for homework time.
2. Create a regular time for homework to begin and end. You can get a timer, a bell, a chime, or listen to a family favorite song to mark the beginning and end of homework time. Maybe you'll even make-up a dance or song! Whatever helps get your child (and you!) get into a positive mindset and pleasant groove for homework time.
3. Create a separate space for homework time. It doesn't have to be fancy! (Fun fact: I got through graduate school living in a 200 square foot apartment in Brooklyn. Carving out space can happen, I promise! Need suggestions? Ask me!)
4. Ditch the distractions. This means shutting off the television and putting all your screens in another area for this specific period of time. If you're expecting an important phone call, explain that to your child and put the phone on ringer. This sets the tone that homework time is important to you and deserving of full attention. It also models healthy boundaries with screen time.
5. Understand that an occasional break from homework time can help a child to stay on task. Consider utilizing mindful breathing techniques (ex: pizza breaths ... "breath in through your nose to smell the delicious pizza, now cool it off with your out breath") or fun stretches (ex: "reach up to the stars and make a wish!").
6. On particularly stressful days, consider bringing your own homework to the table. Parents have a lot on their plates ... bills, updating calendars, letter writing, etc. Parents' approaches to doing their own homework can be a positive example for your child ... and help to get your own work done! Heck, it may even help to take some of those pizza breaths and stretches yourself too :)
6. Help your child to organize their homework assignments when they are complete. Help them treat their homework with care and respect. Color coding is a bright and engaging way to do this.
7. When homework assignments are corrected by the teacher and returned, highlight the child's efforts by posting these on a special homework bulletin board or on the refrigerator. Keep in mind that posting imperfect pages is a great idea too especially if you know how hard the child worked on that assignment... posting that C or D grade alongside other A or B grades gives the child the message that trying your best is just as important as getting the best grade.
8. Just like we schedule homework time, schedule some family fun time immediately after homework time. This creates incentive and keeps children on track. Remember that the quality of that play time is far more valuable than the quantity. So even if it's 10 minutes... it's worth it :)