By Nélson Rodrigues
Children are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework because it shows the youngsters that what they are doing is important.
Helping with homework does not necessarily mean spending endless hours hunched over a desk. Parents can support their children by demonstrating study and organisational skills and encouraging them to take a break whenever they feel really tired.
It is important to remember that children are masters of acting whenever they do not feel like doing something!
Many parents have a hard time keeping their children focused while they are learning or studying something.
Some children and teenagers tend to watch television or listen to music while they are doing their homework or studying for an exam or test. This is the kind of behaviour that parents should be concerned about, especially when their children tend to be easily distracted by the surrounding sounds or images.
Firstly, children coming back home should eat something in order to gain energy for the tasks ahead.
Secondly, parents should compel them to do their homework without requiring full parental attention, especially when they know a particular subject quite well but are just too lazy to develop it or think it through.
In primary school, children start getting homework for the first time.
By doing homework children learn how to read and follow directions on their own, manage and budget time (for long-term assignments such as book reports) and at the same time parents and children are aware of the extent of their knowledge.
It also helps them to develop a sense of responsibility, pride in a task well done, and a work ethic that will benefit them well beyond the classroom.
Parents can help their children with their homework. It is important to establish homework as a priority and children must acquire good study habits from an early age.
Here are some tips if you have children in primary school:
1. Know the teachers and ask them, if necessary, about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
2. Choose a well-lit and quiet place where they can study or do homework;
3. Schedule a regular study time: some children work best in the afternoon following a quick meal and play period while others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
4. Keep distractions away. This means no TV, loud music, etc.
5. Young students must do their own work: they will not learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can help with directions but it’s the children’s job to do the learning.
6. Set a good example. Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.
7. Praise their work and efforts. Parents should show their children that without effort it is almost impossible to achieve something. No pain, no gain!
8. If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. First of all, talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some children have trouble seeing the board and may need to sit nearer the board or may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
During the middle and high-school years, homework gets more intense and grades start to become more relevant than ever.
Teenagers may prefer to study on their own rather than surrounded by parents or siblings. Granted that independence is relevant but parents must check them from time to time just to make sure that they are focused on what they are doing and not distracted.
When teenagers need a computer for assignments, parents should keep an eye on them, especially when they are working in a bedroom, in order to discourage any kind of “parallel” activity such as: playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the internet for fun during study time.
It is also important to let them know that they shouldn’t keep any kind of school assignment or homework until the last minute. It is too stressful, especially when they have a test the next day. Strategies such as using flashcards to memorise facts, taking notes at school and underlining while reading are useful methods to study for a test.
Teenagers must be aware that paying attention during classes and studying a little bit everyday will be more productive and useful, instead of studying everything a day or two before the tests or exams.
Like athletes, students learn by doing. Good grades require the same kind of dedication that athletes put in. Some children, for instance, often lack the support they need to study and develop their skills to the fullest. They might sometimes find it hard to receive validation for their work. That is when parents come in!
Feedback provided in classes and obviously at home is essential to boost their self-esteem and independence in terms of study. From an early age, children must know that there is time for everything – to study and to play.