Early childhood education Tips

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How can I help my child with homework?

Discuss the Assignment

It is a good idea for parents to discuss with their children the nature of the assignment, to make sure they understand what they are supposed to do, and to guide them as they do the first one or two items of an assignment. Parents should not have to remain by their children's side throughout the entire session. If your child seems to require this, then you should probably build in n incentive for working independently to wean your child off reliance on you for support or assistance. Setting the kitchen timer and telling your child to wait until it rings to show you her work or to ask questions is one way to gradually increase independence.

How can I help my child with homework?

The magic comebacků

But Mom…I already finished my homework. I don't have any homework this weekend Dad….See ya later!

Remember my 10 minutes per grade level tip? You must make studying, not just homework, a daily habit.

Students can always review lessons, read a book, or work on practice exercises during homework time, even if they don't have homework.

Ask younger children to show you their homework so that you can check it, sign it, and date it. Teachers like to see that adults have checked their kid's
homework. If your child's school has a homework hotline or website, check for daily assignments.

Don't ask your children if they have homework each night, assume that they always have homework or studying to do.

Ok, the magic comeback…

You come home from work, or wherever during the established homework time. Suddenly you hear machine gun fire and laser beams in the living room followed
by a cheer and laughter. When you walk in the living room and give the “what do you think your doing mister” line to your son, he gleefully replies, “I don't have any homework tonight” and turns back to his video game.

What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO?!!

Here's what…

Say casually “Ok, just do me a favor and pause the game a second, (or mute the TV, or come inside, or whatever it takes to have your child look at you), I
want to ask you something. ( My "Why?" tip)

Then, when you have their undivided attention, let them see you look at your watch and say, “ Your teacher didn't give the class any homework? I'll be sure to call your principal tomorrow and tell him/her that your teacher is not following the schools homework rule of 10 minutes per grade level per night. Boy is she/he in trouble!” Then walk out of the room.

Maybe not immediately, but in less than an hour I will bet you a truckload of money, that your kid will have turned off the game (or stopped whatever they
were doing) and is now doing some sort of school work…and making sure you see that they are doing some school work.

Pretty funny, right? I have been teaching parents this comeback ever since I saw an Olympic Judo Team captain say something similar to get her team to
have an extra practice. It's funny how much school and athletics have in common. But that's a topic for another time.

Try the magic comeback the next time your kid pulls the “I don't have any homework” line and see how it works for you. I would love to hear from you. I
have a collection of over 5000 emails from parents who have used this technique with successful results. After you use it, email me at chris@nobletraining.com with your story.

Just be warned…sometimes you may actually have to call the teacher. (never call the principal. Most just yes you to death and don't do squat about it) If you have followed my other tips, then you and your child's teacher already are a world championship tag-team.

Explain that jr. has been telling you that there has not been any or much homework; can we challenge him//her some more?

How can I help my child with homework?

Too much homework?

You may also want to talk to the teacher if your child appears to be spending an inordinate amount of time on homework even though he is successful at it. Ask the teacher how much time a child should be spending on homework, and if your child is working much more than that, ask for an adjustment in workload, such as reduced assignments.

How can I help my child with homework?

Find the right place.

In some families, having a central location, where all children in the family do their homework works best. This may be the dining room or kitchen table. In other families, each child has her own study place, usually at a desk in the bedroom. What works for you depends on your children. Some kids do best under the watchful eye of a parent, in which case the dining room or kitchen may work best. Others need a quiet of their bedrooms to avoid distractions. Some kids like to work with the radio on (and this helps them focus), while others do worse with this kind of background noise. Think about possible distractions that will need to be avoided (a nearby television, the telephone, etc.) when planning your child's workspace.

You may want to conduct "experiments" with your child to determine what setting works best under what circumstances. Try several options for a week each and see how your child does (rate the quality of the homework completed, the time it took to finish, and the child's subjective reaction).

How can I help my child with homework?

Getting Started

As mentioned above, it is usually best to have the child begin with a task that they consider "easy." Some children may want to start with the hardest task first to get it over with, and this is acceptable unless the child has a very difficult time getting started and will dawdle or avoid the difficult assignment even though it was his/her choice to start with it.

For many youngsters, just getting started on homework seems like an insurmountable obstacle. We have several suggestions for handling this problem:

Have the child specify exactly when she will begin her homework and then reward her for getting to work within five minutes of the time she has specified.
Sit with your child for the first five minutes to make sure he gets off to a good start.
Talk with your child about her assignments before beginning. This is particularly important for written language assignments or more open-ended tasks. Children often need to be "primed" or activated for their best efforts to come out. This is particularly true for youngsters who may have difficulties with verbal fluency or word retrieval.
Orient your child to his assignment; walk him through the first one or two problems or items to make sure he understands what he is supposed to do.
Build in a short break relatively quickly, if getting started is a problem.

How can I help my child with homework?

Gather necessary materials

Gather necessary materials
Youngsters can waste a lot of time tracking down things like pencils, paper, rulers, etc. when beginning their homework. To avoid this, stock your child's study area with these materials and any other he is likely to need, such as a dictionary, highlighters, pens, scissors, glue, tape, colored pencils, stapler and staples, etc.

It may also be helpful to set up file folders for each subject your child is taking in school to keep track of necessary papers, such as long-term assignment directions, tests and homework that have been passed back (to help in studying for the next test), etc. These folders should not be used for storing homework, since your child is likely to then leave it at home and forget to take it to school. Completed homework should be placed in the child's backpack, trapper keeper, or notebook as soon as it is finished to ensure it gets to school.

A plastic bin may be an ideal place to store study materials; if you have more than one child, you may want to have one bin for each child. The advantage to this is that these are portable - just in case you have a child whose preferred study style is to work in a different place each night!

You may also want to have a second container (such as a dishpan) which your child can "dump" their school things in as soon as they get home from school. This will help avoid last minute frantic searches for permission slips, library books, messages from the principal, notices of meetings, etc.

How can I help my child with homework?

Practice makes perfect

Parents should keep in mind the overall purpose of homework: to give children independent practice with a skill they have already been taught. Parents should not have to teach the skills necessary for their children to complete their homework successfully. A good rule of thumb is that children should be able to get at least 70 percent of a homework assignment correct working on their own for it be within an appropriate instructional range. If your child cannot achieve that level of success without a great deal of support from you, then the homework she is being assigned is probably inappropriate. Make an appointment with your child's teacher to ask for assignments that will better give her the practice she needs.

How can I help my child with homework?

Getting Through It

Make sure adequate breaks are built in. Many children have a great deal of difficulty working for long stretches of time on homework without a break. Better to plan for a two hour homework session with frequent breaks built in than to try to cram homework into a one-hour, non-stop session. You can sue a kitchen timer to keep breaks to a reasonable length (e.g., 5-10 minutes). Breaks might be used to get a snack, play a few minutes of a Nintendo game, or to shoot baskets or do some other form of exercise. Breaks should be scheduled when tasks get accomplished rather than after a set period of time, otherwise your child can daydream the time away and still get his break. One child we know arranges homework sessions between TV shows he likes to watch. Thus, his schedule on any given day might look like this:

4:30 math
5:00 TV show
5:30 language arts
6:00 dinner
6:30 social studies
7:00 TV show
8:00 science
8:30 TV show
9:00 bed time
If he hasn't finished whatever task he was working on when his television program comes on, he either misses the program or tapes it watch at a later time.

How can I help my child with homework?

Organizing Homework/Setting Priorities

A homework session should begin by reviewing what the day's assignments are. It is probably a good idea to draw up a list of assignments on a separate sheet of paper, so that you can then help your child prioritize and break down longer tasks into shorter ones. The steps to follow might be:

List out assignments.
Make sure the child brought home the necessary books, work sheets, etc.
Break longer tasks into sub tasks.
Check to see what other tasks the child has to do which should be included on the list - including long term assignments, and tests later in the week for which the child should begin studying. Add these to the homework list.
Have the child decide what order she will complete the work. A good rule of thumb is to have the child begin and end with assignments she considers "easy," sandwiching more difficult assignments in between.
Estimate how much time it will take to complete the work.
Make sure you have allowed enough time for the child to complete all his homework allowing for break time as necessary.
Sometimes it is difficult for kids to complete homework because of other obligations they may have - sports events, doctors' appointments, scout meetings, chores, family events, etc. You may find it helpful to put together a weekly calendar to keep track of these activities. Once a week (Sunday afternoon sounds good), sit down with your child and fill out (or review) the weekly calendar together. Then, as you plan your homework time each day, you can reference this calendar to allow time for the other activities your child is involved with.

How can I help my child with homework?

Reviewing Technique

Parents may want to review homework assignments to check for either neatness or accuracy. If the handwriting is illegible (and your child is capable of writing more neatly without an inordinate amount of effort), it is acceptable to ask him to rewrite the assignment. If your child is ready to learn to proofread or to check for mistakes himself, you may want to hand a paper back with a comment such as, "I found three mistakes on your math page," or "Please look for spelling errors." If he's not ready for this, point to the specific mistakes and ask him to correct them (without giving him the correct answer).

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