Ask any school child parent how they feel about their kidís homework. Chances are, they will hate it - secretly, of course. We all know homework is often that ho-hum thing that ruined so many Sunday afternoons, but once you become a parent and your little one is off to school, the perspective changes. However, your primary task should be to teach you child how to study. But how?
Studies show that children have more fun and do better in school when their family is actively involved in their schooling. This, however, in no way means that you should be doing your childís homework instead of them. So how do you do it?
Before you try anything else, your child must know what going to school and doing homework is all about. Explaining that a good education will better their chances to do what they actually like later on in life may be lost on younger children, but a positive and encouraging attitude towards education and learning will not. Remember how happy they are every time they win something they actually have to work for, no matter how silly it is? Well, use that! Reward your children when they complete their homework on time, as instant results and rewards will encourage them to try even harder next time. This doesnít have to be anything major - even stickers will do just fine.
Another great way is also an easy way: you are definitely aware children imitate your behaviour even on a subconscious level. So, use that to your advantage. Do things you want them to do - teach them through examples that good things come as a result of good work. read a book before you go to bed, and your kids will see this as natural. Things done together, as simple as solving crossword puzzles or Sudoku or writing a letter or shopping list will work their magic into your kidsí minds.
Create a Suitable Studying Environment
Where would you rather work: in a cubicle or a well organised office? Of course the answer is unnecessary but donít forget you child would make the same choice. So, according to your possibilities, make sure you provide a suitable work environment for your child. A well-lit desk or a table is the best option, as long as your child can comfortably sit and write there. However, in order to let them participate, encourage your child to decorate the study space with artwork, but try to keep it free of any toys or other distractions, especially the electronic kind.
As children respond well to strict rules (once they understand there is no negotiation, of course) they should have a fixed time after school for studying and homework, and you make sure both you and your child respect this time.
Imagine the following: you are at work and most of your colleagues are standing together, talking and laughing. The atmosphere is relaxed and easy. But, you need to start working on that report, and your colleaguesí laughter is so distractingÖ. Now they are talking about something really interesting, only you canít hear them very well, but you would like to so muchÖ And the report is still waitingÖ So next time there is someone watching TV while your child is struggling with homework, trying to secretly glance the TV show every 5 seconds, remember how they are feeling. Itís a struggle. And it is not nice.
And yes, children have a million questions, so you must have a million and one answers. It is all part of parenting. But, don't be an answering machine and just give answers, but instead ask questions and help your child understand the problem in order to reach the answer independently.
Connect With the School, Teachers and Parents
Your childís teacher is your friend - not the arch-enemy, as some parents sadly perceive them. It is a person who takes care of your child and often has a clearer picture about them. Working with your kidís teacher is a great thing and it can help all of you.
School nowadays is all but just compulsory, regular classes - there is much more than that. Learn what the school has to offer, as after-school activities such as music, sports, theatre or tutoring programmes can be a fun way for your child to take on more responsibility and develop work ethic. If the teachers have a website with listed assignments you can use this as a valuable source of information and resource for keeping track of your childís progress (plus, you child will use the compute time for something other than social networks).
Encourage Healthy Habits
We have all heard of the saying ďa sound mind in a healthy bodyĒ, and this is particularly true for children. Their bodies and minds are constantly growing and developing and need the right amount and quality of nourishment, exercise and rest. Many children are sleep deprived, and this is a major factor for concentration as well as a good mood. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, with 8.5 hours a night being the minimum. Encourage healthy eating habits, and try to avoid junk food and too much sugar, as they can result in sluggishness and hyperactivity, respectively. Ensure your child gets enough exercise to keep their body healthy and their mind sharp.
And last - but not least: donít forget to enjoy those years with your child - usually they turn out to be the most beautiful and memorable.