Cincinnati Family Magazine

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July 13, 2024

Help for Homework

Make your home a pleasant “school” when it comes to homework, so everyone gets in on the learning.


Sometimes there’s no end to the supply of tricky spelling words that must be learned each week. That’s what you may be thinking mid year in the middle of homework with your child on any given Wednesday night. Homework’s the equal opportunity disappointment: grueling for struggling students, a time-consuming bore for the eager learners, a hassle for parents everywhere. While your kids may have a few teachers who assign homework sparingly, for the most part, you’re looking at years of at-home tutorials, so think of your homework central as your homeschool. Concentrate on improving your family’s aptitude for homework by implementing seven “DO” rules:

Seven “Do Rules”

#1 DO let your kids find a comfortable study position in a central, public place at home where the work will get done faster and with less fuss.  

#2  DO allow background music for kids who get good grades if it helps them, however, avoid ear phones — a child can’t concentrate on his work if he’s concentrating on the song.

#3 DO make it fun for your little ones.  If your child needs to memorize math fractions or spelling words, instead of grinding away with a pencil, try smearing some shaving cream on a cookie tray. This smooth, silky surface is perfect for writing, erasing and writing again. You’ll be amazed at how eager your kids are to practice when the syllabus calls for fun.  

#4 DO save editing for final drafts. Don’t worry about spelling and handwriting when your child is working on a first draft of a writing assignment.  Ideas and creativity flourishes outside the “rule box.”  On second drafts, encourage them to root out common words and replace them with juicier images.  Run becomes sprint or dart.  Eat turns into gobble or nibble.  Edit only after all brainwork is done.

#5 DO let kids move, snack, sing or shoot baskets every 20 minutes between homework tasks to recharge batteries.  Little breaks pump energy to the brain, driving away fatigue and boredom.  Some kids may respond well to the “Beat-the-Clock” approach to homework, although this may not yield the best results.

#6 DO avoid the word “BUT” when checking over your child’s work. Kids listen for your “BUT” and hear little else as their confidence and self-esteem plummet.  Point out the positives, beginning by saying, “It’s good, especially this part.  I love they way you described the dog howling.”  Then ask, “What part do you think is best?”  Supported by your praise, kids can assess their own work and hear suggestions without getting defensive.


#7 DO let your kids do their own work. If your child doesn’t understand his assignment (and neither do you) send an email to his teacher.  

Laurel Schmidt has been in education for more than 30 years as a teacher and principal. 
She is also the author of Seven Times Smarter: 50 Activities, Games and Projects to Develop the
Seven Intelligences in Your Child
(Three Rivers Press).

About the Author