Most teachers encourage at least an hour per night of homework and most adults feel, homework is an important aspect of school life and teaches students important skills that they will need later in life. Many students tend to strongly dislike having to do homework.  Students find it difficult, frustrating, and laborious, producing resistance, careless work, stress at home, and conflicts between struggling students, parents, and teachers.

Research shows that when parents become involved in their children’s schoolwork, the children do better in school. One way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child’s school work and self-esteem. One important aspect of helping your child with homework is to find out if the homework is appropriate. Another important question is how much homework is enough for your children.

Several studies support the following:

Primary students – 30 minutes a day

Elementary students – 45 and 60 minutes

Middle school students – 90 minutes a day

High school students – 2 hours a day

The relationship between learning and homework increases at the middle and high school levels. Therefore, more practice time should be required at those levels.  Homework is important in the early years because it helps students develop good study habits.  However it can be very difficult getting your child to study.  This is why it is important to create a homework system and stay with it.

The following are helpful tips to creating a better homework environment.

  1. Remove Distractions – have your child do homework in a quiet place that does not have distractions.
    1. Don’t expect your child to do homework in a room where siblings are playing.
  2. Hold off on watching TV and other fun activities until homework is completed.
  3. Keep in touch with the teacher or teachers to be fully aware of the quantity and the quality of the homework turned in.
  4. Prioritize – encourage your child to work first on those assignments that are due tomorrow. Then tackle the tasks that are due later.
    1. Help your child plan his studying so that projects are not left until the last minute.
    2. An assignment book can be a big help with this.
  5. Set a schedule, including both a consistent beginning and an ending time.
    1. Most kids need some time to unwind after school before they tackle their homework. Doing it too close to bedtime may make it difficult due to fatigue.
    2. Fridays are usually the best day for homework that must be completed over the weekend. Assignments are still fresh in mind and last minute panic rushes are avoided.
  6. Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into “What I can do myself” and “What I need help with.” You should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as using flashcards, practicing spelling tests, and clarifying assignments.
    1. This builds responsibility and independence in your child.
  7. Provide a home study center for your child with adequate light and few distractions.
    1. If your child concentrates better with “white noise” (music), provide that help.
    2. A dictionary, paper, pens, etc., should be readily available.
  8. Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment. “
  9. Check understanding – Be sure your child understands new assignments before he or she starts working on them.
    1. This one can save lots of anxiety and tears!
  10. Be available when your child is doing homework, so that you can answer a question if there is confusion.
    1. If possible, it is better for you to be in another room, so you are easily accessible and yet not a distraction.
  11. Look over the homework when it is completed.
    1. Check for patterns of errors
    2. Guide, but don’t correct – If your child needs help, offer ideas that can help sort out the problem, but don’t give the answers.
  12. Allow bathroom, drink, and/or snack breaks, but insist on completion of tasks.
  13. Get organized for tomorrow – Remind your child to pack the backpack before going to bed. Even the best homework effort doesn’t do much good if it’s left on the kitchen table!

Students with special may need to have homework modifications.  The modifications should help with students achieving success and not add frustration to what is often a difficult road to acquiring knowledge.  If you have a child with special needs it is important to talk with your school and come up with a plan that ensures your child’s success.

About Steven Petrus

Dr. Steven Petrus is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psycho-educational assessment, child, adolescent and family therapy.
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