As the school year begins, most households will experience a change in their treasured “family” time. Evenings together that were unstructured and relaxing all summer are now dedicated to completing homework assignments.
For parents of all children — and especially those with learning and behavioral challenges — this nightly occurrence can be quite stressful. There are, however, many things parents can do to make the “dreaded homework hour” less difficult for all involved. Today, TFI’s Education Specialist, Barbara Resnick, MS, offers hints for parents to make homework a success this school year.
Some good ways to make the process less stressful include:
- Check the nightly planner when your child comes home so you see how much time should be devoted to homework.
- Establish a homework time and routine.
- Reduce the number of extraneous materials present in the homework area.
- Clarify assignment expectations by reading and highlighting instructions.
- Re-explain and/or paraphrase the assignment if your child is unsure about what to do.
While assisting your child with nightly assignments, it is important to monitor the amount of time needed for completion. If you feel that the time is excessive or that your child clearly does not understand the assignments or requires total supervision in order to complete them, share your concerns with the classroom teacher. This difficulty could be an indication that your child may need more formalized academic support from the school (homework accommodations can be provided informally as well). Parents should feel comfortable having their child stop working on an assignment if completing it is turning the evening into a disaster.
Although most parents are not formally trained as educators, the homework time spent together can be used to teach a variety of learning strategies such as:
- Teach prioritizing of assignments, i.e., completing those that are most difficult first, completing assignments that are due tomorrow before working on a long-term project.
- Explain homework time management. Ask your child to estimate the time it will take to complete an assignment. Set a timer and compare the estimated time with the actual time.
- Break longer assignments into manageable steps.
- Review the assignment expectations prior to reading the material. This will help focus your child as he/she reads.
- Relate concepts in a reading story to your child’s personal experiences.
- Break down multi-step math problems.
- Create graphic organizers for writing assignments. Graphic organizers visually break written assignments into short segments and specify what information should be in each section. (Ideas for graphic organizers can be found online.)
- Act as a scribe when your child’s assignment requires an extended response.
While supporting your son or daughter with their school work, be mindful of his/her self-esteem. Acknowledge efforts that your child makes to complete an assignment, and not just the result. Remind your child that everyone makes mistakes and that nobody is perfect. Be sure to explain that a person can survive when making an error, and share an example of your own mistakes and how you overcame them. If a project comes out less than perfect, monitor for signs of frustration and keep in mind that these signs may be secondary to anxiety and insecurity over perceived task difficulty.
Here’s to a wonderful school year!!
Learn more about Barbara Resnick, MS, on our website.