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Help Your Children Finish Their Homework
By: Kim Lance, Contributor

Many parents have difficulty convincing their children to start working on, much less finish their homework. If children are avoiding their homework and are not convinced that it is necessary to finish, their grades will inevitably reflect this. Not only does the thought of homework stress out a child, but, often the task of completing homework can be a factor contributing to a parent’s own stress. But don’t leave it up to your child’s school to teach their students the importance of completing homework. If you do not keep a watchful eye on the school progress of your child, you might be setting that child up for academic failure.

Set Up a Consistent Homework Routine
One of the most important things to remember when approaching your child about doing his or her homework is that children often perform better when they are used to a certain routine. At the beginning of each semester, make sure you and your child sit down together form a daily schedule of when you child is to do his or her homework. When planning the schedule, take into account all extracurricular activities and your own availability. It is important not to deviate from this routine.

Change “Homework Time” to “Family Learning Time”
Make homework time a time where both you and your child learn together. While your child is finishing their schoolwork you can read a book or magazine. This will ensure that you are monitoring the time your child spends on homework and will create a good study environment free from distractions like television. Homework will seem like less of a chore to your child if they are not forced to be alone in their room while the rest of the family is watching television or socializing.

Help With Homework, Don’t Do It For Them
While it is important to be there for your child while they complete their homework, it is important not to hover over them correcting them every step of the way. If you try to tutor your child through every bit of their homework, they are going to more and more likely to rely on you for help, rather than learning concepts on their own. The point of doing homework is that children will learn to retain what they have been taught in the classroom outside of school.

Rather than going through every math problem with your child, have them go through the problems themselves and then review their homework afterwards. If they simply cannot figure a problem out, tell them to skip it and finish the rest of the problems. If they are stuck on a problem and cannot go further in the homework because of it, assist your child by looking through the textbook together to find the answer (even if you already know it). Once finished, you and your child can check the answers together rather than you giving them the easy out by just telling them the correct way to do it. It may be a good idea to leave the choice up to your child as to whether or not they want you to look over their completed homework or not.

Don’t Threaten Unless Necessary
If your child still refuses to do their homework, only then should you threaten punishments for not doing homework. Punishments that are temporarily effective include not allowing your child to play their favorite video game, go to the park with friends, or watch their favorite cartoon until their homework is done. While it may be more convenient to immediately threaten these consequences at the first sign of dissent, in the long run, continual threats every day only create resentment and anger between your child and you. Remember, you want your child to think of homework time as a family learning time, not an individual chore or punishment.

Help Your Child Focus on Homework
To get your child focused on his or her homework, first try sitting down with your child in a designated “homework area” and look through the homework instructions together. Ask your child if they understand the instructions. If not, go through them again. Once you start looking at the homework, your child is more likely to get focused on the task at hand. When your child understands the instructions and starts to work on the first problem, you can turn your attention toward your own book and only help the child out when they are stuck on a concept.

If you follow these strategies you will have provided you child a consistent workspace and time, free from distractions, when he or she knows that you are available to help them complete their homework. You child will begin to think of homework as “mommy and me” or “daddy and me” learning time rather than a tedious task. And, as a bonus, you’ll be able to spend more time with your child and finish reading that novel you always wanted to.  


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