It seems to me there are two extremes with homework: the "helicopter parent"
who hovers and drives the kid crazy with nagging, or the neglectful parent who
stays totally out of the monitoring process until the child is really in
trouble academically. What's a good middle road that works?
Parents who are stressed out,
working two jobs, or intimidated into a pile of goo by the sight of algebra
problems are not likely to be tremendous homework cheerleaders for their
children. In fact, they may think homework is hell. Here's a more heavenly
n Talk with your child about what
makes a good work ethic.
n Work together on an accountability
plan that will discipline your child to do homework efficiently and well, and
be rewarded with time and permission to do fun things.
n Most schools distribute assignment
notebooks even to grade-schoolers. That's a great monitoring tool. Use it!
n Make sure there's a quiet place to
study, equipped with pencils, pens, paper, a dictionary, other reference books,
and a good study lamp. The child's own room is often not the best choice. Limit
distractions and diversions.
n Don't do your child's homework.
Check it, but don't do it.
n No TV until homework's done. Better
yet, no TV on schoolnights. If your child's grades are good and you're happy
with his or her progress, you can relax your restrictions a little.
n Music on headphones and a TV in the place
where your child studies are both very prevalent these days. But multitasking
interferes with concentration. Talk with your child about the dangers of
distraction, and the difficulty of concentrating when he or she flits between
the homework and instant messengering, fiddling with the iPod, looking at the
TV, etc. Those electronic toys may be OK when your child is doing lightweight
projects, but not meat-and-potatoes studies such as memorizing chemical
formulas and so forth.
n Use homework as an early warning
system. If your child consistently gets A's on homework but C's and D's on
tests, or vice versa, something's wrong. Talk with the teacher.
n If there is little or no homework
assigned, errors are left uncorrected, or it's all too easy, you may have a
schoolwide problem that the parents' group might take on.
Homework: The book, The Educated Child: A Parent's Guide by William J. Bennett
(Touchstone, 1999, 664 pp.) has good tips on homework and will equip you
completely on the basic tasks of shepherding a child through school.