Keeping pupils focused on homework

By ParentsCanada staff on August 12, 2008
As your tween busts back into the house after school the lazy days of summer abruptly end the first time you ask, “Do you have homework?” Getting organized and staying on top of what’s expected is half the battle for parents and tweens.

The right place: We all know today’s tween’s are the ultimate media multi-taskers, so help keep them focused by providing a quiet, well-lit spot daily with no interruptions (yes, that means no email, IMing or iPods).

The right time: Most school boards recommend five to 10 minutes of homework per grade, nightly. With this in mind, set a schedule with your tween before the year begins. Just like you, your tween needs time to unwind after a long day, so choose a time that allows them to do something they enjoy first.

The right mood: Keep them excited – give your tween a lot of positive support and encouragement. Adopt a can-do attitude about any of your own challenges.

The right help: If your tween needs help, guide them without providing the answers. Allowing them to complete homework on their own helps them develop independent, healthy work habits.

If your tween consistently struggles with the subject matter, talk to their teacher; many schools provide tutoring services and homework clubs. Bernardine Nelligan, a 25-year faculty member of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, stresses the importance of parents communicating promptly with the school to avoid tween and family frustration: “The most important thing is that homework be meaningful for children, but not over- or under-burdening for them or their parents.”

Advice from the trenches

“Start assignments early and take breaks. Tackle hard stuff first. It’s easier to keep them going if the works gets progressively easier.” Nadine S, Edmonton, AB, mom of Jason, 12

“Check homework, but don’t correct it. Instead help by saying, ‘Why don't you check number four again?’” Rashid S, Toronto, ON, dad of Adar, 10 and Sarah 11

“Don't criticize. Be available for them to ask questions in a safe environment.” Stacie Gibbons, St. Catharines, ON, mom of Jeffery, 11

“I make their homework time my ‘homework’ time. While she studies, I stay in the same room doing bills or other paperwork. Then I’m around if she needs to ask me something.” Lisa L, Mississauga, ON, Mom of three

“If my daughter can’t figure out a word, I resist tossing the dictionary at her. Instead I say something like, ‘Wow! Hard word. Let's look that up.’ That way I don’t humiliate her, or do her work for her. And now she’s learned to just go to the dictionary herself.” Jill A, Kamloops, BC, mom of Ansley, 13

By ParentsCanada staff| August 12, 2008

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