By Nina Duran
Every week I feel that I strug- gle to get Elijah to do his home- work. There are times that I completely forget till 7:30 p.m. and I know that he won’t remind me. Since he’s only 6-years-old, homework isn’t exactly a prior- ity for him.
Before school started, I told myself that I was going to invest a little money in getting him a small school desk for his room, where he can do all his home- work, and hopefully get into a routine. Well, that didn’t happen as planned and now I’m stuck with him doing his homework on the kitchen table, not exactly the perfect learning environment for him; especially since Noah is usually running around distracting him.
He’s been in the first grade for close to three months now and I’m still struggling with setting a schedule for him and even worse, with remembering that my little guy has homework to do. Granted, it’s not the hardest work, but he does need to know that it’s very important and cru- cial to his school life and further education.
I started researching what I could do to help both of us in this endeavor, and this is what I found to be most useful:
Simply put, most children at this age are not going to gravi- tate towards homework just yet. It’s equivalent to getting them to eat veggies (for most parents). Here are a few tried and true ideas that have worked that may help you, so far they’ve been helping me.
1. It’s highly important to set a designated homework time every day. For some families that may mean after dinner, for some it may be right when you get home from school. Set aside at least half an hour to an hour of your time, this way your child knows that it’s important to you. This is a great time for you, as parents, to model effective study habits by doing your own work- related tasks.
2. Organize a homework area for your child. Be sure and choose an area that is quiet and has low-traffic (I’m still working on this one). Dining rooms or the child’s bedroom may be okay, but be sure to provide a desk with a comfortable chair and all the school supplies that may be needed as well. Good lighting is also very important and be sure to keep the noise level down in nearby areas, taking smaller children in another room.
3. Be sure and protect your child’s study time. This is not the time to answer your phone or have friends over. Encourage your kids to be on top of their homework schedule, reassuring them that interruptions won’t happen. Consistency helps to keep everyone on track.
4. It’s ok to stay with your child during their homework time, but try not to intervene too often. Some parents love to help out the entire time, when they should actually back off and let the child try to finish themselves. Kids are smart and tricky and will end up sitting back and letting you complete their assignment. Be available if help is needed, but don’t do the work for your child or you can disrupt the learning process.
5. Supplemental learning aids can come in handy as well. Dictionaries, a thesaurus, or CD-ROM software can facilitate your child’s efforts. Be careful about Internet use and check adult content blockers.
These simple steps of provid- ing time, support and encourage- ment will help your child learn and appreciate the value of an education and having a helping parent by their side.