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How to help kids do their homework

After-school strategies

Posted: September 1, 2008 5:06 p.m.
Updated: November 3, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Develop strategies to help your children overcome the homework blues. Develop strategies to help your children overcome the homework blues.
Develop strategies to help your children overcome the homework blues.
With the school year underway, parents are sure to start hearing their kids complain about the difficulties of their homework, projects and research papers.

As much as the common "I can't do this!" attitude expressed by youngsters can be troubling for parents to see, with tips from the U.S. Department of Education and North Lake Hills Elementary School third grade teacher Judy Whitmire, parents can develop strategies with their kids to make homework a much easier task.

n Set a time for homework everyday. By developing a schedule, kids can complete their assignments in a timely manner, according to the Department of Education. Having a routine time means parents may have to factor in other after-school tasks like sports practice or music lessons.

n Pick a quiet place and remove any distractions. "You don't want to have a stress-filled home in the evening," said Whitmire, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years. The key to finding the right spot depends on lighting and the amount of distractions, according to information from the department. One of the most important things to consider is finding a place that doesn't have the big distractions, like the television. A child's bedroom may work, but most kids find working in the living room or home office works, especially as it gives parents easy access to their kids.

n Make sure kids have access to the resources they need. The Department of Education recommends parents make sure their kids have the basic school supplies like pens, pencils and folders.

Along with that, Whitmire said making sure kids have access to the library and any other education locations are important when it comes time for big projects and research papers.

n Learn about the school's homework policies and classroom routines.

"Parents need to know that school districts set policies about homework," Whitmire said.
While there are district-wide regulations, teachers often have policies within their own classrooms.
For example, children in Whitmire's classroom come in every morning, write down their assignments from the board and then turn in their homework from the night before.
Depending on their age, children can use a specific folder that is just for keeping their homework, Whitmire said.

"Organization is the key," she said.

Before the school day is over, Whitmire will go over the night's assignment.
"They name one thing they have to do for homework," she said. That also means making sure students are taking home the right supplies and books.

n Work with your child, but don't do the entire assignment. Whitmire recommends parents ask their youngsters about what they have to do for homework.

Questions like "how are you going to do this?" lead children to understand what the assignment requires them to do.

With math problems, Whitmire believes parents should go through three or four problems with their kids before letting them try it on their own.

Afterwards, parents can check their child's assignment to make sure it was completed.
If they keep running into problems, Whitmire said parents can go over the directions again, review any sample problems and ask, "Can you tell me where you have made a mistake?"

n Stay in touch with teachers. If homework problems persist, it's not a bad idea to talk to a teacher.

Educators generally have school e-mail addresses and more are setting up Web sites that list homework assignments, grades and classroom basics.

Whitmire suggests parents attend back-to-school nights as a way to "get a feel for the teacher."
Overall, while homework is frequently graded, not every assignment has to receive a 100 percent.

As tempting as it may be to do every single problem with them, Whitmire said homework is a way for teachers to keep track of how their students are doing.

"I see homework as a learning tool, not as a grade," Whitmire said. "What they're doing is practicing something they've learned in school that day or during the week."


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