Here are our top seven:
Help them get organized.
Encourage students to track their homework tasks by using a paper or digital planner, and help them set up a system for storing what’s been completed and what still needs to be done.
Make it part of the routine.
Try to make homework happen at a consistent time each day, like during an after-school program, right after getting home, or immediately after dinner. Aim for a 30-60 minute block when they’ve had some time to relax but aren’t too tired. You may want to consider allowing older kids to decide for themselves when they want to do their homework—but be clear that it needs to be done by a certain time every day. Once the routine is set, try not to nag. Communicate that it’s their job to get their homework done.
Create a consistent homework space.
Ideally, this should be somewhere quiet and well-lit, where you can check in with your child easily. Try to minimize the need for students to have to get out of their chair. If you use your kitchen table, pick up an organizer caddy that can house homework supplies and be easily pulled out and stored away.
Emphasize that homework time is a time for being quiet and focused. You can model good behavior by setting the expectation that loud music, TV, and video games are off limits for everyone (including yourself!) in the homework zone. If one child finishes before others, give them the option to read, draw or play quietly somewhere out of sight.
Be a coach, not a player.
Does a coach go onto the field and start scoring goals? Then why are you holding the pencil? Your role is to monitor and motivate, not do the work yourself. In fact, there’s some evidence that helping kids with their homework doesn’t actually do any good. When they get stuck, encourage them to think through ways of solving the problem on their own, for example by exploring online resources or writing down questions to ask their teacher. Avoid the urge to try to teach them yourself, especially if you’re not sure either. If it seems like they’re often confused or frustrated, it’s time for a talk with the teacher.
Build in breaks.
Keep an eye on how long it takes your child to complete their homework. The amount they should have depends on their age and grade level. For longer stretches, ensure students take brain breaks to get the blood flowing and increase alertness. For high school, every 30-45 minutes of studying should be followed by a 10-15-minute break. For elementary, every 15-30 minutes should be followed by a 5-10-minute break. Set a timer, if that helps them stay motivated.
Keep the high fives coming
Finally, remember that a little praise goes a long way. Give your kids regular props—and yes, maybe even the occasional reward—for hard work and making progress!
National PTA Parents' Guide to Success
The National PTA offers these year-by-year guides to help parents understand what their kids should be working on in school.
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