Homework: Ways to Structure Your Homework Time by Julie Shullo

Homework can be a major stress for children and teens (and you)! Help your child/teen develop strong habits for completing homework with these 4 tips:

1. Schedule a consistent time for homework to be completed.  Afternoons can become busy with sports and other extracurricular activities.  However, set clear expectations with your child/teen that homework is a priority. If possible, schedule a consistent time for homework to be completed. Ideally, it’s in the afternoon so if an assignment takes longer to complete, he doesn’t need to stay up late to get it done. This isn’t always possible though, so arrange a time that works best with your family’s schedule. Just try to keep it as consistent as possible (i.e. always after snack, after soccer practice, immediately following dinner). The more of a routine you develop with him, the fewer reminders that you’ll need to give and the better homework habits he will form.

2. Create a quiet space for your child/teen to complete her homework. Kitchens are a popular space in the house. Unfortunately, they can make for a challenging place for a child/teen to focus on her work. Instead, have her work in a quiet and well lit space, free from distractions. Make sure unnecessary electronics (TV, phones, etc.) are away from her so she can focus on the material she is working on.  If the kitchen really is the best place in the house for your child/teen to work, turn off the television and limit loud discussions while she completes her homework.

3. Keep school materials organized. Make sure that the work space has adequate school supplies available and that they are organized in a manner that works for your child/teen. This area should have plenty of pencils, erasers, paper, etc. Help your child develop his organization by creating a filing system for him to place school papers that need to be completed/signed as well as any returned work that has been graded (so that it doesn’t become squished at the bottom of the backpack or stuffed in the binder).

For older students, keep finished flashcards, study guides and associated tests in one place so they can access them easily when studying for midterms or finals later in the semester.

4. Develop a break system. It’s not healthy for anyone to sit for extended periods of time. Implement a break system for your child/teen to stop intermittently during the homework time. Depending on the age of your child/teen, it may be every 5 minutes, every 15 minutes, or it could be every 50 minutes. Have her take a short walk, get a drink of water, do a few body weight exercises (push-ups, lunges), or do a few stretches. This will provide your child/teen an opportunity to get her body moving as well as a much needed brain break.

Hopefully these strategies help make homework time much less stressful!

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