The nagging, the battles, the lost pa-pers—do you dread school work as much as your child does? Here's how to help them hit the books and develop good study habits.


STEP 1: Make a Plan

Sit down with your child and lay out the expectations now, as the school year has just begun, ra-ther than waiting until problems arise. Make two or three goals to get better results. Ask yourself: What were your child's stumbling blocks last year? If homework time was running into bedtime, maybe an earlier start time is the solution. Did your child resist reading? Work on ways to make it fun—such as setting up a reading tent under your dining room table. Review your child's home-work goals from time to time. Adjust your plan as you go, letting your child take as much ownership of the pro-cess as much as possible.



STEP 2: It’s All About Routines

Create and stick to a daily schedule or routine. In some homes, that means doing it right after school; for others, it can mean waiting until after dinner if your child is the type who needs to expend some energy before he or she dives back into the books. I would recommend giving your child at least 30 minutes to have a snack and un-wind, with one caveat: that half-hour break really shouldn't involve anything with a screen—television, e-mail, or video games—or you may have trouble getting your child off and onto homework. Giving your child a half-hour break between after-school activities and homework is a smart idea, too. The key is to be con-sistent about the routine. What about weekends? Every-one deserves a break on Fridays, of course. But pick a regular time during the weekend for some educational activities. For example, your child can work on Math Whizz or Lexia online.


STEP 3: Know When to Get Your Child Extra Help

If your child is truly stuck on a homework assignment, don't make the common mistake of trying to reteach the information. Your goal is not to become your child's teacher. Plus, your approach might be too different from what they learned in the classroom. Imagine being a kid learning long division for the first time. You don't under-stand what your teacher is saying, and your parents teach you another method. When you get back to school, you're bound to be even more confused. Instead, send an email or note to the teacher asking him or her to please explain the assignment to your child again. If your child is a fourth-grader or older, have him or her talk to their teacher. It's important that he or she learns how to speak up and ask for help.

STEP 4: Have The Perfect Spot

Some children do best work with a desk set up in their bedroom so they can work independently; others want to be smack in the middle of the kitchen while you are cooking dinner. Allow your child to choose their pre-ferred study spot. If your child focuses better lounging on a couch or the floor, let them do it. Wherever your child does homework, keep it distraction-free—no TV, video games, or loud siblings playing nearby. It's ideal if you can set a quiet family work time, when younger kids color or do other ‘homework-like’ tasks and you do pa-perwork or reading of your own.


STEP 5: Stop Being Too Helpful

Of course, it's okay—and actually necessary—to sit with 5-6-year-olds while they do homework. However, your goal should be to help less over time and move physically farther from where your child is as they work. That way, your child is encouraged to think through their home-work problems on their own before asking for help. Even when your child asks a question, try to respond with more questions instead of answers. For example, ‘What do you think?’ or ‘How do you think you can find the an-swer?’” This will often allow the child to work out their own solution by talking it through with you.


STEP 6: Read Every Day

Not only do children need to do their homework daily and turn it in on time, they must also read every day.

Reading is key to gaining a larger vocabulary and more knowledge. Reading allows children to learn new things and takes them to new places. There are simple ways to include reading in your child’s day, start their day by reading the back of the cereal box to figure out how to get the toy or prize on the back. Have them read the newspaper to learn about current events or the comics to laugh. Reading comic books, gaming magazines, and birthday party invitations are all ways we read to learn. Parents can model reading when they use a cookbook or technical journal from work. Reading is the most im-portant skill a child needs to develop. It is something they should do every day. Reading can be done to them-selves or a family member, or they can listen to a book on tape and follow along. Having an adult take the time to read a story is another good way to practice reading throughout the day. Reading to learn, reading for enter-tainment or reading to be inspired are all reasons why people love to read. Just Read Every Day!


Tatyana Kisel, Vice Principal

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