Liz Morrison, LCSW
Homework Help: 6 Ways to Make Homework Time More Efficient
Your child spends about seven hours a day in school. When he finally gets to go home he finds a pile of homework waiting for him, usually enough to keep him occupied for a few more hours. If he has after-school activities, he may not even have the chance to go home to work on his homework until the sun sets. When you include travel time, eating, bathing, and sleeping, you start to notice that your child’s day can be surprisingly busy and very long.
There’s not much you can do about the length of school itself and the amount of homework assigned to your child, but there are things that you can do to make sure that your child can study in an efficient way that helps him retain more information while not having to spend all night long working on his assignments.
Six Ways to Make Homework Time More Efficient
1. Make a List and Organize: Your child probably doesn’t just have homework for one subject. Have him write down a list of all his assignments and when they are due. Is there a subject that he has had a particularly hard time with in the past? Have him start with that subject. Your child may have a tendency to try to hop from one subject to another as he gets bored. However, this will cause homework time to last even longer and he will retain less information than if he just focuses on one subject at a time. As he finishes his assignments, make a point to check them off of the list so that he can clearly see his progress.
2. Take Breaks: So your child has just finished the biggest and hardest assignment he has for the night, now would be a good time for a short break. Don’t let him take too long of a break, or it will be harder to get his mind to focus on his work again. Serve him a healthy snack to keep his mind focused and his blood sugar steady.
3. Give Him a Comfortable and Productive Work Space: Your child doesn’t have to be locked away in a sound-proof closet in order to get his homework done. Quietly playing music (without lyrics) in the background can help keep his mind from wandering off. Make sure he has everything he needs to complete his homework within easy reach. If he has to get up every few minutes to search for the tools he needs, it will extend his homework time and his mind will lose focus on the assignment.
4. Keep Possible Distractions Away: For some assignments, your child may require access to the internet for research. In these cases, keep an eye on him to make sure that he isn’t getting sidetracked by the many distractions the internet can provide. Otherwise, keep the computer, if he has one where he studies, turned off so that he isn’t tempted to go onto the internet. Social Media, in particular, can prove to be very distracting and can interfere with his work.
5. Hire a Tutor or Invite a Homework Buddy to Come Over: Your child may need professional homework help on certain subject matters. If that is the case, hire a tutor to help him study. Before that, however, you might want to try inviting one of his more responsible friends over for a study session. This will help make homework a little more enjoyable and might even incentivize things as he can play with his friend as soon as he finishes his homework for the day.
6. Be on Your Child's Side: After a long day of school, the last thing a child wants to hear is "do your homework" from his parent. Show him that you sympathize with the situation and that you will do what you can to help. The more your child feels that you understand their feelings, the more likely they are to communicate their challenges rather than shut you out or become upset.
Homework is a part of your child’s education and typically counts towards his final grades. With your help and encouragement, he can accomplish his tasks more efficiently.