Homework Helps

Written By: Rachel Strong
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School has started throughout the country and is well into the first month-some schools are starting on their second. With school comes homework-the bane of most students' school existence.

However, studies have shown that students who do homework do better on tests-regardless of how a student performs on the homework itself. But all of us parents remember how horrible homework was. We all had teachers who we thought gave out too much homework, and we all wondered what the point of homework was.

Homework, in addition to helping raise test grades, also aids in other areas. Doing homework every day helps develop responsibility and prepares children for the responsibilities of adulthood. It also helps students realize that learning does not end with school. Completing a large assignment-regardless of the ultimate grade-should also endow your student with a sense of accomplishment.

Setting up a schedule for your student and sticking with it will not only assure that homework gets done, it will also help reduce stress-homework that is done never kept one up at night. First on the schedule should be some down time right after getting home.

Letting students have some down time after getting home before beginning homework allows brains to switch gears and focus better on the assignments. Just like when we were in school, the amount of homework varies day by day. But just because it may be a "slow" day, doesn't mean that homework doesn't need to be done. The twenty minutes to half hour or so between getting home and starting homework can be used to get a snack, use the bathroom, check in with parents, or quickly check their MySpace profile for new messages. Television or video games should be limited to after homework is completed.

Students should have a place where they can work on their homework with adequate lighting and few distractions. Some students need complete silence to adequately concentrate on homework, others need music or other "white noise" as silence can be deafening-and distracting. However, limit Internet access (including MySpace, IM, and other websites).

If your student has falling homework scores, consider taking out the Internet or TV of your child's room. Have web access only in one room of the house, a place where he can be monitored to make sure he is working on what he should be.

Your student should divide homework assignments in two portions-homework she can do by herself and what she may need help with. Doing harder assignments first also can help relieve stress and make sure your student can end the day on a more positive note-and on time.

While long breaks can cut concentration, never limit bathroom, drink and/or snack breaks. Low blood sugar and a full bladder are as detrimental to learning as watching cartoons instead of doing homework. Encourage short (five minute) breaks to relax between completing assignments.

Your student will pick up your attitude for homework. If you have a bad attitude about homework-or commiserate with your child about how much homework is being assigned-your student will not want to do homework. If, however, you have a good attitude, or do similar work when your child does his homework, you show your child that the skills they are learning will be used in the "real world."

Parents should be available when their student is doing homework so you can answer a question. When homework assignments are finished, ask to see it-not to correct missed math problems, but to make sure it is completed. Use direct praise for completed homework, and even more praise for accomplishments-such as a 100% on an assignment, or an improvement on a test.

If you have questions about the quantity of homework being assigned-or the appropriate amount of homework for the age-make an appointment to speak with the teacher. If you see grades slipping, speak with the teacher about the quantity and quality of the homework being turned in.

Homework is much more than busy work-even though it may not feel like it. Homework helps students prepare for the adult world-we bring work home all the time. It helps encourage responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. Homework's not all bad.

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