Whether children have their snack first, enjoy some playtime, wait until they return home from after school activities or work on homework after dinner, it is important that clear expectations be established about when and how homework is to be done. Taking the extra time and effort to structure and enforce a predictable homework routine sends the message that homework is important to both of you. Since individual children's learning styles and energy levels vary greatly, as do family schedules, you need to develop a routine that works best for you and your child.
In general, it is best not to leave homework until the end of the evening when children are tired and bedtimes have to be disrupted. Let's face it.. kids need a break when they get home from school, just like grown-ups, but just make sure that their break is reasonable and not excessive. Eating a healthy snack when they get home is a great way to unwind and boost energy levels for the tasks ahead. Asking children to produce quality work when they are either too tired or hungry is unrealistic and is bound to backfire. Likewise, leaving the most difficult or involved assignments to the very end of the night is not a good idea. Most children tend to procrastinate when it comes to more challenging work, and will complete easier tasks first. The truth is that they need to tackle harder assignments earlier in the day (or evening) when they are more alert and less tired. Most schools will schedule testing or academic subjects earlier in the day for this very reason. Encourage your child to complete subjects like Math first, and to complete all written assignments before moving on to non-written tasks or time consuming tasks such as studying for tests.
Try setting reasonable time limits for homework completion. When homework becomes an open-ended activity it can drag on into the late evening hours. Teach children to estimate how long it will take to complete their homework (a very valuable skill) and check on their pacing periodically. It will take time to develop s sense of how long it takes to complete certain tasks, but just getting kids to be aware of their pacing is a huge accomplishment. Do you have a bedtime curfew? Does homework need to be completed by a reasonable hour? Remember too that finishing assignments early can help children to get to bed earlier- a routine that can improve your child's performance in class the following day.
Naturally, it will take time to find a homework routine that is comfortable for both you and your child, but your efforts will eventually pay off. Be patient, and with the proper homework routine your child may even surprise you by automatically completing assigned work without you even having to ask.
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