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Develop a Homework Routine for Your Children

My oldest daughter just started Kindergarten this school year ('07-'08) so we have joined the world of homework. I have been doing research on when experts say children should do their homework, and how much time you should expect them to need to finish it. I really began researching the importance of completing homework immediately after school when a friend of mine told me about an experience she had with her oldest child. He was having night terrors regularly, which of course is a huge disruption in a child's life. She consulted doctors and counselors to seek help for her son. Finally, one professional suggested that he do homework immediately after school instead of right before bed as they had been doing. He had been getting very upset about homework each night, crying, having fits about it, etc. Thankfully, and by no coincidence I'm sure, the night terrors stopped after they changed his homework routine. The night terrors had mainly been brought on by the stress he was experiencing before climbing into bed!

As parents, we don't want our children to dread doing their homework, or resenting school because of it. I believe that the more a child enjoys school, and the less stress they have as a result of it, the better and more successful they will be become with their studies. I personally see advantages of homework, so I don't really mind when my daughter brings it home. I believe that the responsibility of having homework to complete instills ... well ... responsibility!

Your first step in developing a homework routine is to designate an area in the house where the homework will be done. I prefer the kitchen because there is no TV in the kitchen, no toys, no distractions. I make sure that our kitchen table is clean each day before my child comes home.

Next, you need to make sure that your child has all of the supplies handy that they might need to do their homework. I think that it is easier if they do not have to ferry school supplies back and forth from school. I would recommend that you discuss this with your child's teacher. Purchase a plastic storage bin to store these supplies in to keep them out of the way when they are not needed. I keep the bin under my bed. I also do not allow my children to play with homework supplies so that they do not get lost. Some parents like to display a "homework calendar" in the homework center so that they may keep track of long term assignments and not forget to complete them.

Finally, you need to designate a homework time that works for your family. This works on much the same way a designated bedtime does. The child knows that at the appointed time a certain thing will happen every day, i.e. homework, dinner, bed, etc. Many children are hungry and/or thirsty after school, so you may wish to give them a snack before are during homework. If you give it during homework, make sure it is something that is not messy, like sliced apples!

Some children benefit from an incentive to do their homework without complaining, and do it correctly; not cutting corners to get it done quickly. You may wish to implement a simple reward, such as 15 minutes of TV time or computer time after the homework is completed to satisfaction. Or, you may choose to implement a more complex reward system that involves setting goals and receiving a larger reward after so many days of accomplishing homework tasks. Think of a sticker chart some parents use with a potty training child. The key is to find and use a system that works for both parent and child.

As your child reaches higher grade levels, it may begin to take longer periods of time to complete the work. In this case, it can sometimes be helpful to let the child have a small break midway through to keep them from getting to frustrated. For this to work, you will need to set a period of time for the break to last, 10 minutes, or maybe 15. Before hand, discuss what your child will do during their break. This will give them something to look forward to.

Remember, children are more likely so succeed in school when parents are involved with and monitor homework. It is vital that you are willing to take the time and attention and be involved with your child's education.

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