August is an exciting month for parents and school-aged children.  It marks the end of summer and preparing for school to start.  Parents are busy acquiring all the necessary school supplies as well as clothing and shoes for their kids to start school.  Also, it is important for parents to develop a homework plan with their children.

According to an article from parents should sit down now with your children, discuss expectations and come up with a few goals.  It really helps if your child helps to develop the plan.  He/she will be more apt to follow the plan if involved in its creation.  Review what the obstacles were last school year.  Did your child put off homework until bed time?  Or, did he or she balk at reading? Or, did you feel as though you were constantly in war with your child over getting it done? If so, focus on attacking some of those obstacles in your plan.

Ann Dolin, who is the author of Homework Made Simple:  Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework, says, “All the research says the single best way to improve your child's homework performance—and bring more peace to your home—is to insist on a daily schedule or routine.”  Most kids need a break when they get home from school and generally a snack.  Ann further states that the break time should not include TV or computer games, since it may be hard to get your child to break away from that activity.  She says to plan on 30 minutes of time and then make plans to start homework. Kids need structure, so plan for homework the same time every day and don’t forget about the weekends!  Don’t wait for Sunday evening to get started.  Pick the same day and time every weekend.  Also, pick the same homework spot and make sure it is free of distractions such as TV and conversation.

Initially, you’ll need to supervise your child while he/she is doing homework.  As the child becomes more comfortable with the routine, allow him/her independence to complete it.  Always check it over to make sure it is finished but don’t correct it.  It is really important that parents don’t do homework for their children.  The purpose of the activity is to reinforce what has been learned during the school day and your child needs to be doing the work.

Fortunately, parents can check on school websites to see what assignments are due and when.  If your child is struggling with a concept, contact the teacher through e-mail or leave a message at the school.  If you attempt to re-teach the information, you may be approaching it differently than the teacher and really confuse things! I never could understand the “new math” and had I attempted to teach it to my kids, they really would have been up a creek without a paddle!  However, if the paper or your child’s text book has sample problems worked out, have him/her explain to you how the problem is solved.  Hopefully, that quick review will jog his/her memory and the homework problem will be able to be mastered.

And, lastly, from the time they were babies, I tried to read to my kids every day.  As they were learning to read, I would read a page and then they would read a page.  When they got older, we read chapter books together or separately and discussed the stories. Children who develop good reading skills are going to be more successful in all their classes since reading is required in every subject.  A fun activity is to set aside a night each week where everyone in the family reads for fun.  You’ll be modeling the behavior you want your child to learn and take some time for yourself to enjoy a good story!

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