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Setting aside the debate about the place of homework in education, the fact of the matter is that homework is part of everyone’s school/work life. It is never too late to embrace a homework policy in your home. There are many competing interests/obligations/distractions for the free time that exists outside of the classroom. As the parent, you provide leadership through your actions and attitude that will impact how your student approaches homework.

A couple of general points that may be helpful:

  • A “First we work, then we play” approach may aid motivation to see the task through. What enjoyable activity will happen after homework?
  • Where is the optimal environment in your home to get the job done? For many students, proximity to an adult aids attention to task and reduces distraction. The kitchen, hallway, home office or dining room are good places to consider.
  • Technology is both a help and a hindrance. Students can be on YouTube for help with solving a math problem or for watching the latest cat video. The presence of a parent in the area can help the student stick with the task at hand.
  • Schedule breaks with your student. Studying for an hour without a break can be wasted time. Use a timer. Depending on the age of the child, 5 to 20 minutes of concerted effort and concentration might be all that is possible. Then take a short timed break of 3 to 5 minutes and return to work.
  • A break is activity-based to replenish mental energy. Stretching, throwing a ball with the dog, walking to the kitchen for a drink of water or retrieving the trash cans at the end of the driveway are all good activities for a break. Looking at Twitter or other social media does not support mental energy.

Allow your child to see you doing your “homework.” We are all life-long learners, and your example will demonstrate your commitment to that ideal.

Blogger Mary Ann Mulcahey, PhD, shares her expertise in assessment and diagnosis of learning disabilities and ADHD, and the social/emotional adjustment to those issues. If you have questions, please contact Mary Ann at mmulcahey@springer-ld.org.

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