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Homework Rules 101

Kids are more likely to flourish in school when parents show concern and pay a lot of attention in their homework — it shows them that what they do is significant. It is a chance for the learning minds to refresh concept acquired in school.

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Helping with homework, however, shouldn’t mean spending hours bent over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating learning and organizational skills, clearing up a tricky problem, or simply boosting their kids’ morale. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are a few tips to guide the way:

1. Who are the teachers?

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Attend school events, such as new class orientations, parent-teacher meetings, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved. Find out what are the expectations and how to meet them.

2. A homework-friendly area

Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach. Slouching on sofas or the bed while doing homework is not going to be very productive.

3. A regular homework time table

Back to school supplies

Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may be best able to give them most attention back from school right after lunch.

4. Help them schedule and plan

For heavy homework assignments or test, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule if necessary.

5. Minus the distractions

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This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment or a test can be helpful.)

6. Let the kids do their own work

They won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s a kid’s job to do the learning.

7. Motivate and monitor 

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Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns. Go through conceptual errors and clear out any confusions you can by talking about them.

8. Teach by example

Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.

9. Encourage work and efforts

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Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.

10. If there are continuing problems with homework, get help

Talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.

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