homework skills

How to Help Your Child Build Better Homework Skills

Originally published on the NY Metro Parents Website
ny metro parents

It’s time to hit the books!

Now that your kids are all settled into their back-to-school routine, it’s time to assess what is (or isn’t) working when it comes to homework habits, because no matter what their learning style, they’re going to have plenty of take-home assignments. How they handle these assignments can affect whether or not you need to look into finding a tutor or adjusting their study space. Before your kids have a full on homework meltdown, try these handy tips for helping your kids stay organized and accountable, courtesy of Dr. Emily Levy, Ed.d., from EBL Coaching.

With the new school year back in session, homework demands are quickly piling on. For many students, the process of writing down assignments, taking home the correct materials, completing assignments, and turning them in on time can be a challenge. Help your child build better homework skills with these tips.

Assignment Book
Many students think they can remember all of their assignments without writing them down. Others jot down certain assignments, but not all, often neglecting critical ones. Each of these scenarios can lead to forgotten homework and missed assignments.

To help combat this homework chaos, encourage your child to maintain and consistently use an assignment book. Even if she is convinced that she can remember all of her assignments, remind her that this task becomes increasingly challenging as she moves through school, and jotting them down will help make sure she doesn’t forget any. If she has trouble consistently doing so, create a “sign off” system where you, as the parent, sign off on each assignment in her assignment book that is done, and her teacher signs off once it’s turned in.

Rewards-Based Incentive Plan
Implementing a reward-based incentive plan can help students build stronger homework and time management skills. To set up this type of system, sit down with your child and come up with a list of rewards that he would like to earn. Such rewards might include video games, apps, Lego sets, a trip to the movies or his favorite ice cream store, or the like. In order to receive the reward, for a pre-selected number of consecutive days (5 or 10 often works), he must write down all of his assignments daily, check them off when done, and turn them in on their due date.

As an alternative, you can try using a “homework punch card.” Once your child completes and puts away all of his assignments on a given day, he receives a hole punch in his card. Ten punches (or another pre-determined number) earns a reward. This type of reward system can help students develop consistency and automaticity with completing and turning in their assignments in a timely fashion.

Homework Buddy
Establishing a homework buddy can help your child feel accountable not just to herself, but also to a friend. At the start of the year, talk to her (and ideally loop in her teacher) about selecting a homework buddy. During the school day, the students each write down the assignments given to them by their teacher. Then, at the end of each day, they check each other’s assignment books to make sure all assignments were correctly written down. If they were not, the buddies help each other correct them, or ask their teacher for clarification, if need be. Next, they perform a book check to make sure that they both have in their backpacks all books and materials needed to complete the assignments. The next morning, they check to make sure each buddy turned in all due assignments. The buddies can even use a daily sticker chart and give each other a sticker when everything is done correctly.

Consistent Homework Time
It is important for students to develop a consistent routine of completing their homework at roughly the same time each day. Some students prefer starting their homework right when they get home and are still in “school mode.” Others need a rest and a quick snack right after school, before getting started. Certain students thrive on the post-dinner energy rush. While it’s generally better to work on longer, more taxing assignments earlier in the day, there is no general ideal time for completing homework. Each child is different and works best at different times of day. They key is consistency. Once a child selects a time for completing homework, he should stick with that time, so that it becomes a built-in part of his day.

Homework demands increase rapidly as students move through school. Encourage your child to use these tips to build stronger homework skills and become a more confident and successful student.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent