School Help Tips

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How can I make homework easier?

Long Term Assignments

These are often the hardest homework assignments for youngsters to keep track of and to complete.

Know what assignments are due when.
In addition to having a weekly assignment book where daily homework is recorded, it is also advisable to have a monthly calendar on which long term assignments can be written as soon as they are assigned. With younger or more disorganized students parents may want to periodically send in this calendar and ask the classroom teacher to verify that it is up-to-date. Older students should be able to keep these themselves, transferring items as necessary from their weekly assignment book.
Break long term assignments into sub tasks.
Sit down with your child and read over directions or discuss the nature of the long term assignment. Make out a list of the steps necessary to complete the assignment. If desired, this can be a fairly lengthy outline with notes attached providing more guidance about what is to be included for each step. For written reports, for instance, the steps might include taking notes, generating an outline, writing the introduction, the sections of the report and the summary, preparing a bibliography, drawing any necessary maps and charts, proofreading, preparing the final draft, and making a cover.
Draw up a time line.
Once the outline is developed, each sub task should than have due date attached to it and should be written on the monthly calendar.

Care should be taken to ensure adequate time is available for each step. A long report will require that more time be devoted to each step, particularly preparing the final draft and proofreading. If the long term assignment requires that your child use the library, visit a museum, or gather information from outside sources, include these trips on the time line, with dates attached. If materials need to be purchased, the time when this will happen should also be identified.

In the beginning, your child will probably need extensive help breaking down his assignments and developing a realistic time line. As time goes on, he can assume increasing amounts of responsibility for these. Time management is a skill of life-long importance. Developing increasing independence in planning for and executing long term assignments is an early opportunity for a child to acquire this valuable skill.

How can I motivate my child?

Answer “Why?”

Giving someone a reason to do something is a vital secret to success. Not only in dealing with your child's education but also in your own life.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” talks about an experiment by a psychologist from Harvard, who concluded people like to have a reasons for what they do. This experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use the copy machine and having someone ask to get
ahead in line. The first excuse used was “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?” This request-plus-reason was
successful 94% of the time.

However when the experimenter made a request nly: “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” This request was only granted 60% of the time.

Okay now for the shocker. It might seem the difference between those two requests was the additional information of “because I'm in a rush.” But that's not the case. The only word that triggers a magic response is “because”.

Here's the clincher: In a third experiment the experimenter asks “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some
copies?” There's no reason mentioned just the words “because”.

This time 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word ‘BECAUSE'!

So, what can you say to your child the next time they complain about doing homework? Give them a reason why…

Your teacher and I want you to do your homework because:

Teaching and learning research shows that students who spend more time on homework do better in school. (logical reasoning)

We want to be sure you understand the lesson. (a challenge)

So you can learn how to find and use more information on the subject (exploration)

We want you to be successful, so we need to make sure you are doing your best in school and at home (involvement)

These are of course just a few examples you can use. Anything could potentially work well as long as you follow a few simple rules.

1. Make school a team effort. (your teacher and I)

2. Give an adult reason (no because I said so's)

3. No negotiating! I cover homework rewards and punishments on the free bonus CD that comes in the Homework Motivator package.

How can I motivate my child?


With some children, the use of natural or logical consequences alone may be sufficient. Not being able to watch a favorite TV program because the homework wasn't done in time is a logical consequence arises from dawdling over assignments. For some children, a failing grade is a natural consequence for failure to complete homework, and this alone will be sufficient to induce them to work. However, it has been our experience that parents should not assume that fear of a failing grade alone will be sufficient to induce their child to do his homework.

Parents should resist the temptation simply to punish children for their failure to do homework. While it may make sense to cut down on the number of outside activities or the amount of time their child is allowed to play with friends after school in order to allow for sufficient time to do homework, a system in which incentives are built in for homework completion will likely be more effective than a system of negative consequences alone. Most children who have problems doing homework are not happy about their situation or the fights they draw their parents into. Rather, it seems to take these children considerably more effort to get down to work and to sustain attention to homework than it does the average child. For this reason, it makes sense to reward them for the extra effort it takes.

How can I motivate my child?


When the problem is not considered to be so extreme, a more informal system (such as the opportunity to earn a small reward after all the homework is done each day) may be all that is necessary. Children can also be taught to reward themselves as they complete tasks, both major and minor ones. They can also adjust the reward depending on the size or difficulty of the task; half an hour of reading is worth a 10 minute break to shoot baskets; completing a term paper is worth a bike ride to the store to by a favorite snack.

How can I motivate my child?

Incentive Systems

For many youngsters, homework is an exceedingly difficult task representing an ordeal they perceive at times to be insurmountable. For these children all the organization and planning in the world may not be enough to get them through the daily grind of homework. In this case, an incentive system may need to be put in place to make homework completion a more attractive task for them.

If this is the right approach for your child, we recommend a system whereby your child can earn points for completing tasks or for demonstrating other appropriate behaviors required for successful homework completion. The points can then be traded in for daily, weekly or long term reinforcers. Steps involved in setting up a point system include:

With your child, draw up a list of privileges or rewards your child would like to earn. daily rewards might include an extra half hour of television, a special snack, the chance to stay up an extra half hour before bed. Weekly rewards might include a trip to the mall or McDonald's or the chance to go to a video arcade or rent a video. Longer term rewards might be going to a movie with a friend, inviting a friend over for the night, or the chance to buy a small toy.
Now, again with your child, draw up a list of "jobs" for which your child can earn points. Related to homework, such jobs might include:
Writing down homework assignments
Bringing home necessary homework materials
Getting homework started on time
Completing work within the specified homework time
Finishing homework without reminders (nags) from parents
Finishing homework without constant parental supervision or assistance
Completing work with an acceptable standard of accuracy (reviewed and defined ahead of time for each assignment)
Proofreading written work/checking math problems
Handing in homework completed and on time
Successfully solving homework problems (e.g., calling friends or teacher when an assignment is not understood, knowing what to do when books or other necessary papers were left at school, discussing homework problems with the teacher or going to the teacher for extra help).
Decide how many points each of the homework "jobs" can earn and how much each of the privileges or rewards will cost. To determine how much the rewards should cost, add up the number of points you feel your child will earn each day. Be sure that your child has about one third of her points free to save up for special privileges.
Get a notebook, and set it up with five columns, one each for the date, the item, deposits, withdrawals, and the running balance.
Once a month or so, review the list of jobs and privileges and revise as necessary.

How can I motivate my child?

Turn it off! - How to deal with TV, Video Games, and Instant Messenger…

Here's the big secret…Turn It Off!!

Children nowadays, on average spend far more time watching TV, playing video games, or instant messaging their friends, than they do doing
homework, studying, reading, or even playing sports!

This is bad news people. Although it's worth noting that all these things can be awesome learning tools, it is a must to lay down the law to your kids.

No TV, and No computer during homework time (unless something needs to be typed or researched of course). If they do need to use the computer give them a strict time deadline that will fit within their 10 minute per grade rule (See my other tips).

Some students can work with a radio or stereo on, while others must work in silence. This is one of the reasons our Homework Motivator program is only 10 minutes long.

If the student likes to work in silence, the short 10-minute program will get them going, then let them work in peace. If you have more than one child be sure
that they are all respectful of each other's tolerance for noise. (Headphones are great, and required for the Homework Motivator)

Again, set the house rules. Tell them why you have these rules (see Answer "Why?" tip), and make it clear to your children what you expect concerning time spent (see 10 minute rule tip), and usage of entertainment media (this tip!).

Again, I cover rewards and punishments on the bonus Tele-seminar CD that accompanies the Homework Motivator, but video games, TV, and computer
privileges should be exactly that…a privilege, not a right.

How can I make homework easier?

Using Your Computer for Better Grades

Your word processor can help you get better grades if you use these tips:

1. Always use your spell and grammar check
2. Don't rely on spell check to get the right words. Homonyms and other words can be spelled right but used wrong!
3. Use a 12 size and an easy to read font, like Times, for most assignments.
4. Use the preset margins and indents for general use. Only change if your teacher makes that part of an assignment.
5. Use black for term papers. Onloy use different colors for words if you are making a poster or some other kind of creative work.
6. Use the bold and italics for your references, following your teacher's guidelines.
7. Spice up your papers with inserted pictures and clipart if your teacher allows it. Make sure the inserts are directly related to your subject.
8. Be sure to add page numbers if there is more than one page.
9. Use the help button to learn how to do new things.

How can I motivate my child?

Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.

Let your child take a short break is she is having trouble keeping their mind on the assignment.

What can I do about other things that affect my homework?

Kid Hates Their Teacher?

Does your child have a teacher or two that they just can't stand to be around? Everyone does! So what can you do about it?

That depends a lot on what bothers your child about this person. Somethings your child will just need to give that person the right to be different about, and let it go. For example, clothes your grandmother wouldn't even wear ... simply explain to your child that to some people, being in style or even in taste is not important.

This person might have a hobby or some personal reason for choosing to dress that way. And remember that the stylish things they are wearing now might seem silly to them in ten or twenty years. Be sure that what bothers them is worth the trouble of being bothered about.

On the other hand, don't overlook your child's opinion. Really listen to what your child has to say. Ask questions. Try to really weed out the facts from the fiction. In today's day and age, you can never be too carefull.

Many other things may need some ideas from an expert or counselor to work out. Talk to your child's principal. That is what they are there for.

You can also email me by clicking on the HOMEWORK QUESTION button on this website. Give me some details and I'll send you some suggestions.

How can I motivate my child?

Reward progress

If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk together, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effect.

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Guru Spotlight
Sherril Steele-Carlin