HOW TO BUILD GOOD STUDY HABITS
How to Improve Your Child's Poor Homework Performance
Providing Help with Homework
Be prepared.It will be easier for you to provide help with your child’s homework if you know what they are working on.This way you can review any concepts you aren’t familiar with beforehand. You can also gather any supplies and materials that will be needed to complete their homework.
- If possible, review their assignments or agenda so that you’ll know what they are learning in each class.
- Complete sample problems and skim over text to get comfortable with the materials. For instance, do the first problem on their math work to make sure you get it.
- Look through their notes and textbooks, or Google anything you aren’t familiar with. For example, if they’re studying mitosis, do a quick search to get an overview of it.
Review problem-solving skills.Instead of offering answers when you help with homework, encourage your child to show you how they would solve the problem.This will improve their homework performance by giving your child the opportunity to review material and practice problem-solving skills.
- For example, if your child is stumped on a geography question, ask "Where could you find the answer? Do you think a map will help? What about your textbook?"
- Tell your child to show you how to work through what they can of the problem. Sometimes kids know more than they realize and can finish all or most of a problem.
- For example, “This one is challenging. Show me how you would start. What would you do next?”
- It’s also teaching your child to problem solve if you say, “I don’t know how to do this one either. Why don’t we look it up? Where do you think we should start?”
Work through examples.Instead of doing the work for your child, you can help them with their homework if you create and walk through some examples.Doing similar work helps your child understand how to do the assignment. The extra examples also give your child extra practice which can help improve their homework performance.
- For math work, recreate a problem from the homework assignment by changing one or two of the numbers.
- For instance, if the problem says (8b+5)(4b -2), you could change it to (9b+5)(6b-2). The steps for solving the problem are the same, only the numbers change.
- Show them how you would skim a text by using a magazine article or book you are reading.
Make it engaging.Sometimes all it takes to improve a child’s poor homework performance is a little fun.Adding a hands-on element can help your child understand difficult concepts or solve challenging problems.
- Draw pictures, graphs, or charts to help explain events, story plots, or word problems. For example, you could draw a diagram of the water cycle to review it.
- If it’s math homework, use candy, beans, or other objects for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems.
- Allowing younger students to use things they don’t normally get to use like highlighters, paper clips, and sticky notes can engage them in homework.
- For example, highlighting the main idea of the paragraph is fun for your child, but also reinforces their understanding of what they read.
Take a break.Working for hours non-stop on homework and studying can be frustrating and overwhelming for young and older children. Encouraging your child to take a break can help give them a chance to de-stress and re-energize.
- Take a 10-15 minute break after every hour of homework. Adjust the time of the break as needed to suit your specific child.
- Stand up and stretch or take a quick walk. Physical activity can help your child be more focused and creative when they return to their work.
- Allow your child to do something creative like color or draw a picture.
Be patient.It can be frustrating for you and your child when you are trying to provide homework help, but they still don’t seem to get it. It can also be upsetting if you are rushing your child to finish. Instead of giving up or rushing them to finish, be patient and give them time to work through the assignment.
- Give your child enough time to think about a question before answering it.
- Remember that some things that are second nature to you (like multiplication) may take them more time to do or may even need reviewing.
- Take a break for yourself if you find yourself losing patience. It’s better to walk away than lose your temper over homework.
Creating a Learning Environment
Create a study space for your child.This space should be comfortable and quiet, with adequate light, readily available school supplies, and minimal distractions.Having a specific place to work and study will help your child be more organized, focus better and quicker, and improve their homework performance.
- Try to find a space without a TV, games, or other distractions. Or at least make sure electronic devices are off and there is nothing around to distract your child.
- If a computer is needed, have your child use it somewhere you can make sure they aren’t getting off track by chatting, playing games, or surfing the net.
- Make sure there are pencils, pens, paper, dictionary, and other materials on hand for your child.
Create a study routine with your child.Having a regular routine for homework can improve your child’s performance
- Take into account that some kids may work better in the afternoon, while others do better working a little later in the evening.
- For example, when your son gets home from school, he might have a snack, then work on homework for a set period.
- Remember to include breaks from studying in the routine. For instance, your daughter might work on her Spanish homework and then take a five minute break before starting on History.
Teach your child organizational skills.One big challenge to good school performance is not being organized.Having the materials they need when they need them, knowing which assignments are due and when they are due, and using good time management skills can help your child improve their poor homework performance.
- Buy your child a calendar or agenda. Show them how to enter important dates or assignments. Remind them to use it for the first week or so.
- Help your child develop a schedule for the day and week. Include time in the schedule for homework, studying, sports, and fun.
- Use organizational supplies like pencil holders or desktop organizers to help keep materials organized.
Encourage your child.Remember that your child probably has some negative feelings about their homework. They may feel anxious, depressed, or ashamed. Encouraging them can help erase these feelings and help them try harder to improve their homework performance.
- You might say, “I really like the effort you are putting into this assignment. Good job!”
- Or you could say something like, “You’re a hard worker and a smart kid. I know that you can do this.”
- You might also try, “I know this is a hard assignment, but I like that you are sticking with it.”
Reward improvement.When your child does an assignment well, or completes an assignment, rewarding them can help them improve their homework performance.In the beginning you may to have provide material rewards, but over time, you should be able to just provide encouragement and praise.
- With younger children, giving them 5 minutes extra play time, a special snack, or even a sticker can encourage them.
- For larger projects or long-term improvement in homework, consider giving your child a reward like extra computer time on the weekends or permission to go to a social event.
- Emphasize that your child should be proud of themselves. This helps make their reward the sense of accomplishment they have.
- You might say, “You should feel proud of how you completed your work. It took a lot of effort and you stuck with it.”
Making Use of Helpful Resources
Communicate with your child's teacher.One of the best resources for improving your child’s homework performance is their teacher.They may have some additional advice or insights on how to help your child do better. It also shows that you are aware of the problem and are trying to addressing the issue.
- Have regular contact with your child’s teacher so that you can be aware of your child’s progress, challenges, and successes.
- Let the teacher know that you are concerned about your child’s performance and would like to work as a team to make it better.
- For example, you might send an email saying, “I’ve noticed she is having trouble completing the homework. I’d like to work together to improve her performance.”
- You might ask, “What suggestions do you have for how I can support her with her homework? What are some things my daughter can do to improve herself?”
Make use of technology.One way to improve your child’s poor homework performance is by using apps, software, programs, and devices to assist with homework. The resources can help your child learn new concepts, review material, practice skills, and more.
- Many schools and teachers have webpages that contain valuable information about school events, deadlines, guidelines and more.
- Online calculators, sample problem generators, video examples, and more can be used to support children with homework performance.
- Visit Common Sense Media to find reviews of apps, games, and websites for children and adolescents.
Get your child a tutor.Sometimes it takes outside help to support your child in improving their homework performance.Resources like tutors and learning centers can work with your child on specific assignments, as well as overall challenges with studying or learning.
- Some schools offer free or low-cost before and/or after-school tutoring programs for students. Check with your child’s teacher to see if this is an option.
- Consider allowing a peer or sibling to help. Monitor the session to make sure that it is actually tutoring and not playing or otherwise.
- Ask your child’s school for the names of some tutors or learning centers that they recommend.
- Consider using a site like SylvanLearning.com or TutorZ.com to locate a tutor, learning center, or online resources.
Consider learning disabilities.If your child continues to have problems with homework performance or also has problems with school in general, you may want to have them evaluated for a learning disability.
- Talk to their teacher about having an evaluation completed through the school.
- Identifying a learning disability can help explain some of the problems your child is having with homework.
- It can also help you get additional resources, like individualized instruction, to help your child be successful in school.
- Even when your child doesn’t have homework, they should still review materials from school and prepare for upcoming assignments.
*If your child continues to have problems with homework performance or also has problems with school in general, you may want to have them evaluated for a learning disability or have a conference with their teacher.
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