School and homework go hand-in-hand, but studies suggest that elementary level students are taking on three times the amount of homework than what’s recommended — and high schoolers can spend an average of 17.5 hours a week. While educators praise this increase, there’s less talk about how this affects the child/teenager from a mental health and stress standpoint. As a parent, make sure you’re providing support and an environment that can help your kid succeed. The following tips (as well as a few apps) can help you in that department.
Establish a Schedule
Between school, extracurricular activities, and family time, it can be helpful to establish a homework schedule, so your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Get a calendar and plug-in time that’s dedicated to hitting the books. Encourage your child to squeeze in a session during study hall and any other free periods. If they don’t have plans on Friday, getting homework out of the way can free up the weekend and prevent the Sunday blues. If you want to toss some technology into the mix, try an app like MyStudyLife to help keep everyone on point.
Set Up a Homework-Friendly Area
While there’s nothing wrong with letting your kid work in their bedroom, it’s full of distractions that could slow progress. Setting up a homework-friendly area can make it easier for them to stay focused. Ideally, this should be a low-traffic area with good lighting, a computer or laptop, and plenty of space to spread out all of their materials. Make sure you keep a supply box nearby in case writing and presentation materials are needed.
Help, But Don’t Do Their Work
While you shouldn’t let your kid struggle if they are having a tough time, there’s a difference between instructing and teaching and actually doing their entire assignment, which is a mistake. It’s important that they learn how to tackle a problem area on their own — or they’ll only have bigger problems in the future. Make your child show you how to do the particular task at hand so you can determine whether they’re still having difficulties with the assignment. If you discover that your child is having trouble in a particular area, discuss the matter with his/her teacher or download an app that can give them a boost in that subject.
Get to Know the Teachers
As mentioned, meeting with your child’s teachers can give you a better idea of what their expectations are which, in turn, can set your child up for success. You don’t need to wait for parent/teacher conferences to have a discussion about standards, their teaching style, and strengths and areas of improvement your child should be focusing on.
Don’t Be Afraid of Technology
Buying a tablet for your child might seem counterintuitive to what you’re trying to accomplish — they’re just for playing games, right? Not quite. While kids do play games on tablets, they’re also a good way to let your child stream educational videos, download apps to help them in troublesome subjects, and access information they may need for reports and projects. Many newer tablets, such as the iPad 10.2, are just as powerful as a computer, and they have the added benefit of being portable.
Don’t Forget to Reward
There’s a lot of time devoted to school and homework, so don’t forget to reward your child for their diligence and good grades. These rewards don’t have to be monetary; for example, carve out some time for educational yet fun family activities in your backyard. You can also teach them about bird watching, which is a great way to learn about the environment and real-life biology. Take it a step further by building a bird feeder or brushing up on photography skills by taking photos and making an identification book — there are even some bird-watching apps that can help you out! This may encourage your kids to want to explore other areas such as stargazing with a telescope, identifying animal tracks and gardening.
Homework is just a part of life, and it’s not something many children enjoy. That said, it shouldn’t be a never-ending source of stress and anxiety. With a little help from you, their teachers, and some educational tech, your child will have all the tools they need to thrive and succeed.
Photo Credit: Pixabay