Homework Time – Without the Headaches!


HOMEWORK…… these two singular words make up one of the MOST HATED compound word to a child. We all know the routine.  The phone rings, the child answers, the parent asks, “Do you have any homework that you need to begin working on before I get home today?” You hear the heavy sigh of “Do I have to do it NOW?” This is replayed daily in homes across the nation.

By setting up some homework habits early, this daily conversation can become much different. When our oldest was four, the summer before her Kindergarten year, I began having her sit down at the kitchen table for 20 to 30 minutes a day and draw a picture, write her alphabet, look at and attempt to read her favorite book or something that was just quiet time for her to do. Sometimes I would read to her and ask her to re-tell me the story I had read.

When she started Kindergarten that fall, we continued this time, but began calling it her “homework time.”  We all know most Kindergarten teachers do not assign homework, but Alyson would bring home the work that she had done from school that day and we would go over it, reinforcing what she had learned.

We continued this with are second daughter. The two girls attended the school where I taught until our oldest was in the seventh grade and our youngest was in third grade. At that time, we moved and our children became “latchkey” children. The daily phone call at 3:00 to check on my children DID NOT sound like the conversation at the beginning of this blog.  Because we continued that routine of DAILY homework time from an early age, we had instilled a homework habit.

It’s never too late to start! The following are tips from the Academic Development Institute, Solid Foundation Resources for you to use.

1. Help your child establish a regular time for studying at home. Homework is only a part of study time. Help your child get in the habit of studying at home even when homework is done.  Help them plan a weekly schedule that includes study time.

2. Set a minimum amount of time.  Ten minutes per grade level, five days a week is a reasonable expectation.  For example, a fourth grader would spend no less than 40 minutes per day studying, and an eighth grader would study no less than 80 minutes per day.

3. When homework is done, students can use the remaining study time. Homework assignments are only a part of studying. After completing assignments, the rest of the time can be used to review, working extra problems, organizing notes, or reading related material.

4. Breaks are important. A short break every 20 minutes keeps the brain alert. While study time should be quiet time, it is NOT nap time. Help make your child’s study time more effective. Encourage him/her to sit up and take a short break every 20 minutes. Provide adequate lighting in the study place.

5. Talk with your child about his/her study habits. The habit of studying at home is taught by parents, not by teachers. Parents teach their children many good habits. Studying at home can be one of them. Once established, the study habit will stay with a child through school and beyond. As an adult, he/she will continue to find time at home to read and learn.

6. Monitor your child’s study time. Let your child know you are interested. Check on his/her progress. Provide encouragement and support.

"A man who gives his children habits of industry provides for them better than by giving them fortune," ~Richard Whately

By Melodie Fulmer, Executive Director Parent and Community Engagement, State Department of Education

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Last updated on December 14, 2011