Homework doesn't have to involve a battle. Families shouldn't have to dread daily homework. Here are 6 tips to help alleviate homework frustration, and make homework time a more positive experience for both children and parents.
Timing Is Everything
Imagine spending a full day at work, only to come home and be forced to immediately begin working again. Our kids work hard at school, and need to be given time to decompress when they get home. Allow your child some time to play and relax after school.
After some designated playtime and a healthy afternoon snack, set aside a block of time that works with your family's schedule. Be as consistent as possible, allowing flexibility for evening activities when necessary.
Create an Environment for Learning
Minimize distractions during homework time by turning off the TV and limiting phone calls. Choose a communal space where the family can work together -- and where adults can be available for assistance.
Set an example by allowing your children to see YOU reading or working during this time. Honor any "no screen during homework" rules your family might have in place. If everyone in the house is going "screen free," your children will be less likely to feel as though they are missing out by having to complete their homework. Pick up a book or catch up on work as your children study. Your example can set your kids on the path towards life-long learning.
Focused seatwork is a challenge for many children. Providing short breaks can help alleviate frustration, adjust attitudes, and allow your kids to revisit more challenging problems or papers with fresh eyes.
Work with your children's abilities. Set goals that are reasonable for their age levels and unique learning needs. If your children cannot focus for 15 minutes, have them work for 10, and then allow a small break.
Be available to help without hovering. Allow your children space, and let them dictate when/if they need/want assistance. Be present without being over-involved.
While often well intentioned, hovering can be interpreted as a lack of faith in the children and in their abilities. Your children need to know you believe in them.
Point out what your kids are doing well! Be quick to mention their improvements and slow to remark on their mistakes. A word of encouragement is far more motivating than a negative comment.
Remember that homework for elementary school students is typically about responsibility and practice. Homework is a way for students to work on developing skills. In many cases, perfection is not expected. Mistakes let teachers know what skills and subject areas need more classroom instruction.
When your child is really struggling with a new concept, reach out to the teacher. Attach a note to your child's homework letting the teacher know your child had a lot of difficulty completing a certain section, or that he/she isn't comprehending how to do XYZ. While not all teachers will respond or take action, some will. If asked, some teachers are willing to give parents tips or tools to better understand the homework personally or offer additional help or support for the student at school.
Elementary and middle-school student�s skill and comfort using the internet may be harnessed to assist them in doing their homework. Many of these sites are highly visual in order to facilitate interaction. Below are some sites, however, that are both accessible as well as highly useful.
Homework Help Sites
This site is the U.S. government interagency Kids' Portal. It was developed and is maintained by the Federal Citizen Information Center. It provides links to Federal kids' sites along with some of the best kids' sites from other organizations all grouped by subject.
This fascinating site, from the Library of Congress, is specifically designed for children and their parents. Drawing on the resources of the Library, it is possible for visitors to see early cartoons, learn what Lincoln had in his pockets the night of his assassination, and find out what happened on a specific date in history. The site intends to be both entertaining and informative, and it more than meets these objectives. In accomplishing these goals, portions of the site can be highly visual; however, this material will be fascinating to sighted students and there is still much for the blind student to enjoy as well.
This site presents games, flashcards, and a homework helper to enable elementary school students to improve their math skills.
Pioneer: Utah�s Online Library
This is an excellent site with links to approximately 40 high-quality sites devoted to offering help for children from elementary to high school. You can find Internet resources on everything from art to women and reference resources ranging from biographies to a virtual reference shelf. Searchable.
Homework hub is where students can get help and direction in completing various assignments from doing research, improving skills, and organizing their work. Site includes study aids, test preparation guides, and term paper guides and resources.
Fred's Head Companion: Homework Helping Sites on The Net
Let's face it, we all need help with homework from time to time. Parents often don't know how to help their children with the assignments they bring home today. Problems only increase when the parents are blind and the child is sighted. This site, from The American Printing House for the Blind, provides a lengthy and excellent list of homework sites which will help you find answers that will bring you closer to an "A".
The Information Please Almanac hosts this site. The visiting student will find almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedia, and general homework help as well as topical and creative fun information.
With the help of students, parents and teachers, a team of educators, librarians and journalists has scoured the Web to bring the best resources for English, math, science, history, art, music, technology, foreign language, health, life skills, extracurricular activities and much more to children.
Kidsclick Library Search
This excellent site provides a wealth of information ranging from art to writing and biography to science. Information may be accessed by either simple or advanced searches as well as browsing by category. Special attention has been paid to making the site accessible.
ProQuest K-12 Online Research Tools for Schools and Libraries
This site provides easy access to expert-selected supplemental content. Resources for classroom instruction include: full-text articles, lesson plans, Web links, media clips and images -- all searchable by grade, subject, textbook or state standard.
It is difficult to find sites to help younger students with homework, but this one, by Refdesk, is a storehouse of information. Help with writing, arithmetic, social studies, government and history, and science, and more are available here.
Science Learning Network
The Science Learning Network, funded by the National Science Foundation and Unisys Corporation, is an online community of educators, students, schools, science and museums. The site provides excellent links to a variety of high quality science resources for both teachers and students.
Free Homework Help and More
This page is devoted to providing links to information on how parents can best assist their children with homework.
Science News for Kids
"Science News for Kids is a new Web site devoted to science news for children of ages 9 to 13. [Its] goal is to offer timely items of interest to kids, accompanied by suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, Web resources, and other useful materials. [Its] emphasis is on making the Web site appealing by offering kids opportunities to comment on the subject matter, ask questions of scientists featured in articles, try out mathematical puzzles, and submit their own work for possible Web publication. At the same time, [it is] interested in offering teachers creative ways of using science news in their classrooms."
BEN's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids
"This site provides learning tools for K-12 students, parents, and teachers. These resources will teach how our government works, the use of the primary source materials of GPO Access, and how one can use GPO Access to carry out their civic responsibilities. And, just as GPO Access provides locator services to U.S. Government sites, Ben's Guide provides a similar service to U.S. Government Web sites developed for kids." Specific links lead to information selected for specific grades.
"Infoplease is the world's largest free reference site. Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Almanacs, and Homework Help on English, math, history, geography, science, and social studies."
A Homework Help Directory
An excellent list of annotated links to a variety of sites, some dedicated to specific subjects while the majority offer general help for homework. Although based in Australia, sources are not restricted by country.
Homework Search Engines
Kids Search Engines
The kid-safe directories listed on this site by SearchEngineWatch use human beings to filter out sites that might be considered objectionable for viewing by children. These usually include sites that deal with explicit sexual matters, porn sites, violence, hate speech, gambling and drug use.
Surfing the Net with Kids: K-12 educational website reviews
Syndicated columnist Barbara J. Feldman hosts this outstanding site which contains numerous Website Reviews for Kids, Teachers and Families.
Ask Jeeves for Kids
"A fast, easy and kid-friendly way for kids to find answers to their questions online. Designed to be a fun destination site focused on learning and 'edu-tainment,' Ask Jeeves for Kids uses natural-language technology that allows kids to ask questions, such as 'Why is the sky blue?' or 'What's it like to live in space?' in the same way they would ask a parent, friend or teacher. The service combines human editorial judgment with filtering technology to enable kids to find both relevant and appropriate answers on the Web."
Direct Homework Assistance
Several school districts provide free homework help either through speaking with a teacher directly by telephone and/or by computer. Depending on the program, you may not have to be a resident of the district sponsoring the program to take advantage of its service. Some of our favorites include:
Miami-Dade County, Florida
Rochester, New York Homework Help from the Toledo Public Library
New York City Department of Education Fact Finder
The link to Blind student assistance
may be of special interest for residents of New York.
This is a for-profit site that operates 24 hrs. a day.