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Homework can be a family project

Dianne Douglas
The University of Florida Extension

Now that school is back in session, homework is going to be a nightly ritual in many homes. Although children and parents often dread it, homework provides an important opportunity for children to practice what they have learned in school. At home, they can get more in-depth information, apply skills learned more broadly, obtain important learning and organizational skills, and learn how to work independently with self-discipline. Homework can also provide an opportunity for parents to get a sense of what their children are doing in school, how well they are doing, and enhance their relationship with their children.

Heidi Radunovich, UF/IFAS Extension Specialist in Family Development offers the following suggestions:

  Set a regular family quiet time for working. It helps to set aside time in the afternoon or evening for study, reading and homework. Regardless of whether or not children have homework assigned, everyone in the family should participate in this work time, and children without homework should use the time to read or review school lessons.

  Find a good location. It is helpful to set aside a comfortable place in the home where your child can do homework, such as a desk or a kitchen table with a chair. Make sure you have good lighting at the location. Younger children will need more assistance with and monitoring of their homework, so pick a spot that is within easy view, so you can be available to assist.

  Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV and make video games off-limits during homework time. Although some children seem to enjoy working while listening to music, there is some evidence to suggest that even music can be distracting.  If you do let children listen to music while working, make sure that the music is quiet, and not distracting to other children who are working.

  Express interest and enthusiasm in your child's homework. Ask about the assignment, and express interest in the topic. Talk to your child about how to tackle the assignment and what it means. Children will be more interested and enthusiastic about their homework if you show interest and enthusiasm. Posting work that received good grades on the refrigerator, or keeping a folder with special work in it shows children that you are interested and care about their work.

  Set a good example. Children watch what we do, and if we model good study skills, read and organize our time well, our children will learn from our example.

  Give praise and encouragement. Homework can be tiring and frustrating, so make sure to praise children for their efforts, even if they are struggling. Give children the message that they are capable of doing the homework and that you believe in them. If necessary, encourage them to take short breaks after they finish smaller tasks so that they don't get too fatigued or restless.

  Don't do your child's homework!  Although it may be tempting at times, it is important for children to do the work themselves. Not only do they not learn if you do the work for them, it gives them the message that you think they can't do it, or they are not important enough to take the time to help with homework.

Start your homework routine this week to get everyone off to the right start for a successful school year. For more information on child development, contact the Madison County Extension Service.

The University of Florida Extension/IFAS Extension – Madison County is an Equal Employment Opportunity Institution.

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