Healthy Homework Habits-Tips for Kids

Back to School is a great time to reset and impart some easy straightforward routines and strategies that can really help take the hassle out of homework time for your child.  As a pediatrician I am of the mind that homework should be to reinforce what was taught in school and should not be endless hours of just rote or busy work. More time spent is not always better or productive. The professionals I consult with agree that in general homework should be about 10 min per grade, so a second grader should not have more than 20 minutes of homework likewise a 9th grader should not be bogged down with more than 90 min (approx. 1 ½ hours/ night) including all subjects. I remind parents all the time that children also learn important skills through free play, whether they are drawing, doing a puzzle, riding a bicycle or other extracurricular activities. They are acquiring new skills in creativity, decision making, judgement, socialization and much more. It just makes sense that the sooner homework is finished the more time for other more preferred activities.

 Here are some of my tips to make homework time more productive and less of a hassle for your child.

Homework Tips

1 Create a study space. This can be whatever works best for you and your child. It can be a small desk or using the kitchen table. Make sure this is enough space for your child to spread out all necessary books and papers. The same location  adds consistency and it helps your child to know ahead of time where to go and how to prepare to start their homework.

2 Keep supplies in one location.  Starting off organized by having pens, paper, pencil sharpener, books, stapler, etc… easily accessible and in one designated school supply area (whether it’s a cabinet or even a big box),  having what you need, when you need it, cuts down on procrastination. Being prepared means your child can jump right into their studies.

3. Avoid Distractions. I know this is easier said than done. However most importantly avoid electronics likes cell phones, texting and messaging during homework time. It is a good idea to have a designated basket or charging area where phones are stored during homework time. Also want to limit background noise so turn off TV’s, radios as this will improve focus on the task at hand as well as increase efficiency and hopefully finish homework even sooner.

4 Make a Plan. Having a daily attack plan before starting homework is helpful and lets both you and your child know what is expected. If  there is a lot of homework consider adding in specific breaks after each homework task is complete or discuss if you think your child do it all in one setting?  You know  your child best. Set realistic expectations. You always want to set your child up for success. Breaks in my opinion are ok and often needed, just make sure your child knows how long is allowable. I would say a break to stretch and a healthy snack may be in order after a challenging or longer homework subject. The key is having clear communication plan prior to starting homework time.

5 Watch the Clock. There is no one right time to do homework but as a pediatrician and mom I can tell you from a load of experience that getting homework done early on after school is often ideal. It is never easy to get going and the longer your child waits to do it, not only are they tired, there’s much more resistance, procrastination and difficulty paying attention.  I believe homework is usually best to get out of the way, so having your child do it when they get home can be ideal and then once it is done the natural consequence of relaxing or playing with their toys or socializing with friends can occur. This truly cuts down on the homework battles.

6. Stay Involved.  This doesn’t mean you should do your child’s homework for them to get straight A’s. Their homework is meant for them and to gauge what was taught or needs more help learning.  It’s good to monitor and check homework when necessary and to make sure it’s done completely, but avoid making it your responsibility.  Its important to have open communication with your child’s teacher and let them know if your child is having difficulty with a particular concept or subject.  In fact, if the teacher hears that over half the kids in class had difficulty they should find another way for the information to be taught. There are many ways to learn not just one. And part of being involved is attending school events and activities (when possible) so your child sees that you value school and their education.

 Lastly, remember as a parent, be a role model. Let them see you also incorporate these techniques in to your daily life as well. Your kids will look up to you and eventually thank you for taking the time to teach them responsibility, organization and time management.

Also, check out my colleagues blog that has amazing tips and tools that will help keep your home and kids organized for Back to School