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Practical Ways to Help Homework

asian21. Provide a quiet environment

Provide a quiet, well lit study area. Avoid distractions such as the television and loud music. Encourage other family members to be quiet, especially youngsters.

2. Have a Regular Homework Routine

Obviously household routines differ. Late at night is rarely a good time to study, as children are tired. You may need to be flexible if your child attends outside activities. Try to get a balance, but homework is a priority. If it is being rushed then consider reducing after school commitments or television viewing. Having a routine helps to avoid excuses such as “I’ll do it after this programme” or “I forgot.” It is important that a child learns to take responsibility rather than having to rely on reminders. Also do not expect your child to work on an empty stomach. No-one works well when they are hungry. Read more …

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Ten Ways to Help Your Child Get Organized

EXAMPLEDeveloping good organizational skills is a key ingredient for success in school and in life. Although some people are by nature more organized than others, anyone can put routines and systems in place to help a child “get it together.” The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities has compiled a list of strategies that you can use to help your child get, and keep, her life under control.

1. Use checklists.
Help your child get into the habit of keeping a “to-do” list. Use checklists to post assignments, household chores, and reminders about what materials to bring to class. Your child should keep a small pad or notebook dedicated to listing homework assignments. Crossing completed items off the list will give him a sense of accomplishment.

2. Organize homework assignments.
Before beginning a homework session, encourage your child to number assignments in the order in which they should be done. She should start with one that’s not too long or difficult, but avoid saving the longest or hardest assignments for last.

3. Designate a study space.
Your child should study in the same place every night. This doesn’t have to be a bedroom, but it should be a quiet place with few distractions. All school supplies and materials should be nearby. If your young child wants to study with you nearby, too, you’ll be better able to monitor his progress and encourage good study habits.

4. Set a designated study time.
Your child should know that a certain time every day is reserved for studying and doing homework. The best time is usually not right after school — most children benefit from time to unwind first. Include your child in making this decision. Even if she doesn’t have homework, the reserved time should be used to review the day’s lessons, read for pleasure, or work on an upcoming project.

5. Keep organized notebooks.
Help your child keep track of papers by organizing them in a binder or notebook. This will help him review the material for each day’s classes and to organize the material later to prepare for tests and quizzes. Use dividers to separate class notes, or color-code notebooks. Separate “to do” and “done” folders help organize worksheets, notices, and items to be signed by parents, as well as provide a central place to store completed assignments.

6. Conduct a weekly cleanup.
Encourage your child to sort through book bags and notebooks on a weekly basis. Old tests and papers should be organized and kept in a separate file at home.

7. Create a household schedule.
Try to establish and stick to a regular dinnertime and a regular bedtime. This will help your child fall into a pattern at home. Children with a regular bedtime go to school well -rested. Try to limit television-watching and computer play to specific periods of time during the day.

8. Keep a master calendar.
Keep a large, wall-sized calendar for the household, listing the family’s commitments, schedules for extracurricular activities, days off from school, and major events at home and at school. Note dates when your child has big exams or due dates for projects. This will help family members keep track of each other’s activities and avoid scheduling conflicts.

9. Prepare for the day ahead.
Before your child goes to bed, he should pack schoolwork and books in a book bag. The next day’s clothes should be laid out with shoes, socks, and accessories. This will cut down on morning confusion and allow your child to prepare quickly for the day ahead.

10. Provide needed support while your child is learning to become more organized.
Help your child develop organizational skills by photocopying checklists and schedules and taping them to the refrigerator. Gently remind her about filling in calendar dates and keeping papers and materials organized. Most important, set a good example.

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Does Homework Really Work?

After decades spent trying to assess the value of homework, researchers still argue over the simplest findings

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You know the drill. It’s 10:15 p.m., and the cardboard-and-toothpick Golden Gate Bridge is collapsing. The pages of polynomials have been abandoned. The paper on the Battle of Waterloo seems to have frozen in time with Napoleon lingering eternally over his breakfast at Le Caillou. Then come the tears and tantrums — while we parents wonder, Does the gain merit all this pain?

However the drama unfolds night after night, year after year, most parents hold on to the hope that homework (after soccer games, dinner, flute practice, and, oh yes, that childhood pastime of yore known as playing) advances their children academically.

But what does homework really do for kids? Is the forest’s worth of book reports and math and spelling sheets the average American student completes in her 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? Or is it just busywork?

Homework Haterz

Whether or not homework helps, or even hurts, depends on who you ask. If you ask my 12-year-old son, Sam, he’ll say, “Homework doesn’t help anything. It makes kids stressed-out and tired and makes them hate school more.”

Nothing more than common kid bellyaching?

Maybe, but in the fractious field of homework studies, it’s worth noting that Sam’s sentiments nicely synopsize one side of the ivory tower debate. Books like The End of Homework, The Homework Mythand The Case Against Homework and the film Race to Nowhere make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.

One Canadian couple recently took their homework apostasy all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. After arguing that there was no evidence that it improved academic performance, they won aruling that exempted their two children from all homework.

So what’s the real relationship between homework and academic achievement?

From the Homework Laboratories

The good news: In an effort to answer this question, researchers have been doing their homework on homework, conducting hundreds of studies over the past several decades. The bad news? Despite scores of studies, definitive conclusions remain a matter of some debate.

“A few studies can always be found to buttress whatever position is desired, while the counter-evidence is ignored,” writes the nation’s top homework scholar, Harris Cooper, in his 2006 homework meta-study at Duke University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

How Much is too Much?

If you’re not ready to make a national case out of your child’s nightly worksheets, it’s worth knowing that she may be complaining for good reason. For better or worse, homework is on the rise in the United States. A survey done through the University of Michigan found that by the 2002-’03 school year, students ages 6 to 17 were doing twice as much homework as in 1981-’82. The homework ante has been upped as school administrators respond to increasing pressure for their students to perform better on state-mandated tests.

So how can you know if your child is doing the right amount? Who came up with that 10-minutes-per-grade rule that’s become the accepted norm? (And if that is the magic number, why is my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter doing two-plus hours a night?)

The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is ubiquitous. Indeed, go to the National Education Association’s website or the national Parent Teacher Association’s website, and 10 minutes per grade is the recommended amount for first through 12th grade.

But where did it come from? “The source [of that figure] was a teacher who walked up to me after a workshop I did about 25 years ago,” says Cooper. “I’d put up a chart showing middle school kids who reported doing an hour to an hour and a half were doing just as well as high schoolers doing two hours a night. The teacher said, ‘That sounds like the 10-minute rule.’” He adds with a laugh, “I stole the idea.”

If you think your child is doing too much homework, Cooper recommends talking with her teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.” Also, Cooper suggests taking a careful look at how your child is doing her assignments. It may seem like they’re taking two hours, but maybe she’s wandering off frequently to get a snack or listening to her iPod.

Less is Often More

If your child is dutifully doing her work but still burning the midnight oil, it’s worth intervening to make sure she gets enough sleep. Recent studies suggest that proper sleep may be far more essential to brain and body development.

In fact, for elementary school-age children, there is no measureable academic advantage to homework. For middle-schoolers, there is a direct correlation between homework and achievement if assignments last between one to two hours per night. After two hours, however, achievement doesn’t improve. For high schoolers, two hours appears optimal. As with middle-schoolers, give teens more than two hours a night, and academic success flatlines.

Not all Homework is Created Equal

Just as revealing, it appears that grade level has a direct impact on homework’s effectiveness.

In a previous meta-study conducted in 1989, Cooper’s team at Duke University found that grade level heavily influences how much homework helps with academic advancement (as measured by standardized and class test scores.) It appears middle- and high schoolers have much to gain academically by doing their homework. The average high school student doing homework outperformed 69% of the students in a class with no homework. Homework in middle school was half as effective. In elementary school, there is no measurable correlation between homework and achievement.

Despite all the research, homework remains something of a mystery. Until Cooper and other researchers discover the best homework practices at every stage of a student’s development, parents will need to use their own best judgment.

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Homework Chart

Motivate your child with this homework chart

HomeworkChartOutlines

Some children are more motivated to do their homework when they write the homework assignments they’ve completed on a weekly chart.

To use this chart, have your child check off (or put a star or sticker) every time she’s finished an assignment.

To motivate your child even more, decide on some sort of reward for finishing homework on time, like an outing with a parent or extra time to do something of her choice (such as watching their favorite program).

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Download and print at home | Also read 5 Tips to Teach Kids to Keep Track of Their Time