Middle School Homework and Study Habits

Written By: Mary M. Alward
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The report cards came home and you're disappointed with your child's scores. You know he has the ability to do better, but aren't sure how to get him to give his best effort. What should you do?

Many children today are capable of getting good marks in school but experience failure and frustration no matter how much effort they put forth. It's not because they don't try and it's not because they lack the ability to get high scores. It's because their homework and study skills are inadequate.

Children who know how to study have a positive attitude and feel confident of their ability to do well. This enables them to control their grades. These habits will also serve them well in life once they reach adulthood.

Parents and teachers have a responsibility to teach children how to study effectively. Though learning styles differ in each individual, the basics are identical. Children need to how to use these basic skills to set up a studying system that works well for them. Once they do that, they need to put the system in place and use it when completing daily homework assignments and projects.

The Basics

There are four basic ways to improve study skills.

Make homework the highest priority.

Homework should be a positive experience that is associated with affection, love, fun, freedom and self-control.

Set fair homework expectations for the completion of homework as well as for grades. (Standard homework is based on five minutes for every school grade level. Example: A grade six student should be assigned no more than 30 minutes of homework daily.) If the expectations are not met, as a parent you need to have and enforce logical consequences.

Homework time should be spent completing schoolwork and projects as well as learning organization and study skills.


There are basic guidelines that should be followed to make your child's homework experience positive.

Do not criticize. Be there to give assistance and support.

Allow your child to choose where, when and how he does his homework. This allows him some freedom and makes homework a more positive experience.

Encourage your child to take pride in his work. This gives him a sense of accomplishment and raises self-esteem. He will also learn to control his learning abilities.

When things go wrong, be sure to maintain patience and understanding. Let your child know you're there to lend a helping hand. Never get angry, shout or criticize.

Encourage your child to choose assignments and projects that he will enjoy. Some kids excel at written reports while others prefer verbal or hands-on projects.

Allow your child to choose which homework assignments he completes first. Some kids want to work on their favorite subject first while others prefer to get the dreaded assignment out of the way.

If your child dislikes a particular subject, find ways to make it fun, more interesting and less frustrating. Have your child do five dreaded questions, take a short break and then complete five more. This keeps the level of frustration minimal.

Encourage your child to do homework assignments and studying for tests with a friend. Research proves that children who study together get higher grades than those who work alone.

When your child's homework is complete, give him positive feedback and praise. Allow him to participate in a favorite hobby, play a video game or go to the park to play with friends.

Do not use homework to punish your child.

Encourage your child to ask questions and then be a good listener.

Quiz children for tests and exams.

Always encourage your child to do his best. If he puts forth his best effort, that's all that should be expected of him.

Homework: A Priority

From the time your child begins to bring homework home, let him know that you expect his assignments to be completed and handed in on time. Stress that homework is of the highest priority.

Have your child choose a comfortable setting where he can complete his homework. It should be at a desk or table in an area where the lighting is good.

Encourage him to establish a homework routine. Homework should be completed at the same time and place each day.

Be sure your child has all equipment and supplies he will need to complete his homework. This includes such items as crayons, markers, glue, ruler, pens, pencils, calculator, eraser, dictionary, thesaurus, reference books and access to a computer for research purposes.

Be sure your child doesn't have so many after-school commitments that he doesn't have the energy or time to complete his homework.

Communicate with the teacher and know when assignments are due. Be sure to know when tests and exams will be given. Be certain your child studies for them. Quiz him for at least a week prior to tests and exams. Spend a half hour each night going over exam content. When test day arrives, he will be ready and confident to meet the challenge.

If you establish good homework and study habits in your child from the very beginning, he will take advantage of them and excel in school and throughout his career. These habits will remain part of your child's life forever.

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