10 Ways to Avoid the Headaches of Homework
Hawaii experts share strategies on tackling the dreaded task.
Hawaii experts share strategies on tackling the dreaded task.
1. Set a Routine ✔
A key strategy is to establish a routine for when and where homework gets done.
“The best thing to do is to get homework out of the way as soon as you can,” says Tracy Lee Lontayao, owner of Quick Stars Tutoring. “The sooner you can get your children to start their homework, the sooner they can enjoy the rest of the night.”
Lontayao says it’s never too early to lay the foundation for a homework routine, but studying varies by age.
“Some children can sit for two hours and do their homework,” she says, “while others may need to get up and walk around or eat a snack.” Keep in mind, she says, that, if they’re younger, “they may only be able to work for 10 minutes at a time.”
Break up homework time as needed. “You can have your child do homework for half an hour, eat dinner and then go back to finish their work,” says Lontayao.
2. Identify Your Child’s Learning Style ✔
Expose children to different learning styles. “All learners are different,” says Kehau Wright, Hawaii director of India Education Methods. “Learning styles can range from brain dominance to multiple intelligences. It’s beneficial for both parents and students to know and understand the different learning styles.”
Maximize learning by presenting a subject in such a way that children are unaware they are learning. “Setting the learning up in a way that is similar to a game or puzzle is a great way to increase student engagement in an activity while minimizing the taxing nature of learning something new,” she says.
3. Determine the Areas in Which Your Child Is Struggling ✔
Homework teaches children how to accomplish tasks, solve problems, manage their time wisely and work independently. It helps them to build the skills they need to succeed. One of the most effective tutoring strategies is identifying your child’s needs.
Just helping with homework “never fixes the real problem,” says Kai Lee Awaya, director of education for Sylvan Learning Center of Mililani. “If a third- grader missed several math skills in first and second grade and is now struggling, it’s likely because his or her foundation isn’t strong enough to build new skills.”
Understanding where learning struggles originate is the key to figuring out solutions. Awaya says that, sometimes, when a child struggles with math word problems, the issue is really reading.
4. Create a Conducive Learning Environment ✔
Set the stage for your child’s success. Take a moment to inspect your child’s study area. Is it messy? Is his or her desk located near the family room?
“Many people already know how distracting the TV can be, but siblings can also serve as a distraction,” says Lontayao, “especially if one child is trying to study and the other one is playing video games or talking loudly.”
Turn off all electronics, unless a computer is needed to complete the homework. “Cell phones can be distracting if your child’s friends are calling or texting,” she says.
Transform technology from a distraction into an educational advantage. “If your children are tech savvy, you can incorporate the iPad into their learning. There are a lot of fun educational websites featuring games, quizzes and activities online for kids.”
5. Refuel Your Child’s Body with Healthy Foods ✔
Studying on an empty stomach or eating junk food may interfere with concentration. “Many studies show how difficult it is for children to study when their bodies are running on too much sugar or fat,” says Awaya. “Whole grain crackers and a stick of low-fat string cheese are great snacks for kids—and adults—of all ages.”
Boost your child’s energy levels with veggie sticks with low-fat dressing, fresh fruit or a frozen yogurt bar, she says.
6. Play Music While Your Child Studies ✔
Music is highly effective when teaching younger children (preschool through second grade), says Wright. “The human brain is hard-wired to receive music,” she says. “If you’re teaching a pattern or sequence, for example, set it to music. Children will easily figure out the number of units and continue the sequence.”
7. Don’t Cram, Study a Little Each Night ✔
According to Awaya, students should study a little every night for each core subject. New material should be reviewed that night and then skimmed in subsequent days.
“Research has shown that, to solidify information into our long-term memory, we need multiple exposures to that information,” she says. “In essence, they are preparing for a test now instead of waiting for the test date to be announced.”
Know your child’s learning style to help customize memorization techniques. “If your child is a visual learner and can remember a picture better than trying to memorize the main points of an outline,” she says, “then ask him or her to create a picture where each object represents one of the main ideas.”
8. Praise Your Child Often ✔
Praising your children can boost their self-esteem and instill a desire to learn. Quick Stars Tutoring develops “daily affirmation sentences,” says Lontayao. “We take a look at a child’s weakness and turn it into a positive statement.” Repeating positive statements about themselves and writing them frequently can change children’s self-perceptions, she says.
“Parents can help by giving positive feedback, such as, ‘You’re a good reader.’ The more positive affirmations they hear, the more they’ll begin to believe in themselves,” she says.
9. Recognize Right-Brain, Left-Brain Learning ✔
Research shows learners under 10 are right-brain dominant, says Wright. “The right brain is where problem solving, comparison, spatial reasoning and ‘big picture’ thinking occurs.” However, the left brain plays a larger role in language and math.
As a parent, it’s important to find a way to balance out these challenges. “Introduce students to these types of problems in a way that is parallel to how they naturally acquire knowledge, with sensory experiences and physical activity,” she says.
10. Seek Help, When Needed ✔
If frustration still arises, consider the benefits of a professional tutor. Tutoring “takes off the pressure and tension that may develop between the parent and child,” says Lontayao. “Our goal is to focus on building
children’s confidence and changing their attitudes so they want to learn.”
A tutor will develop a curriculum to suit your child’s individual needs, says Sylvan’s Awaya. “A tutor can accelerate or slow down a lesson to make sure the student understands the material before moving on.”
Programs at India Education Methods, Wright says, promote “whole-brain development” and may increase students’ IQs. “We do not send our students away with homework, but we do teach methods that students can utilize when completing their school assignments.”