It’s the end of another school day and I’m dreading an epic battle of wills over homework is brewing. Does this scenario sound familiar. Study time can be a point of stress for a lot of families. But with a little planning, we can settle into a routine that will set them up for success. Here are five study tips for kids.
Set Up An After School Routine
I used to wonder why my son was so resistant to doing his homework. One day we were talking and he mentioned that he was tired after school. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I started allowing him an hour to do something that he wanted to do before settling back in to study and do homework.
So my first tip is to set up a routine with your kids that they can follow regularly. Here’s a list of things your routine may include:
- Having a healthy snack to help restore energy.
- Changing clothes or freshening up. Some kids are involved in sports or wear school uniforms and find getting into comfortable clothes sets the stage for study success.
- Doing something fun releases endorphins and is a stress reliever. Kids can enjoy sports, play outside for a few minutes, even watch funny videos online.
- Studying and doing homework.
- Giving parents the paperwork they need to see.
Set Up A Time
The beauty of routines is that they help us build habits. When it comes to studying developing good habits helps students succeed. Habits are in turn things we don’t think about much. It’s not a mental struggle once a routine is in place. So figuring out when doing homework will take place at home reduces resistance.
Work out both a start and an end time for studying and doing homework. This is important because taking too long to get homework done is demotivating while having a set amount of time encourages focus. Talk to your kids and their teachers about a reasonable amount of time for homework and studying. If you find kids are taking longer than expected, it could be a sign that additional support is needed. If you find kids are losing focus during their session, consider adding a short break.
Depending on your families schedule and whether kids participate in extracurricular activities, find the best time for you and be consistent. As kids get older allow them to have input. Some do better with getting study time out of the way right away and some do better getting to work after a break.
Set Up A Place
Having a designated place for doing homework is important because when we are at the designated place it makes it easier to concentrate as we tie the location to the task. As kids get older most can do their homework more independently. So they may not need or want to be in the same room with you or with other family members. Consider allowing them to do homework in a more private location if they are able to focus and get the job done. Also, make sure the space has adequate lighting.
- A study desk set up in their room or study area is an option.
- Some families prefer the kitchen or dining room table
- Another choice is the living room with a lap desk or on a coffee table. Flat surfaces are better for some activities.
One of the largest obstacles to study time for kids is having all the needed materials at hand. No matter where you’ve chosen to study, have supplies close at hand so that there’s no unnecessary stopping to get pencils, for example. There are neat and discreet ways to hide school supplies in plain sight if homework is done in common areas.
Also providing them with a notebook or planner to write down assignments and when they are due is essential and a good skill for kids to master as they progress in their school career. There’s a planner for all personality types and organizational styles. Help your kids find what works for them.
Here’s another challenge for parents as kids get more independent, we may not see every homework assignment or be able to check to see that it’s done and done correctly. But we can ask our kids about their assignments and about whether they are written down. We can ask our kids about what’s working well for them and about the challenges they are facing and problem solve together.
My son was not writing down his homework assignments. When asked why he responded that he felt rushed so I suggested he take a picture with his phone of the assignment board and write it later. The same process can be followed for other challenges.
To get the biggest bang for our study time buck, it’s important to eliminate distractions, those things that compete for our kid’s attention while they are doing homework. Here’s what we’ve done:
Turn off the television – ours is turned off until everyone is done with homework.
Set up rules for the computer and other screens – We have a no screen rule once study time begins. A screen can be used for an assignment but non-screen homework is done first and a headset is worn if used in a common area where others are doing homework.
Create ground rules for courtesy – we turn off the television and wear headsets if our screens will make noise as a courtesy to anyone studying who needs quiet.
Ok, we’ve set up an after-school routine, set up a time and place for studying, gotten organized and gotten rid of common distractions. We should pat ourselves on the back and give our kids high fives because they’ve set themselves up to get the most out of their homework time.
Is there something that you’ve tried that works well for your family’s study time? In what ways have you seen your kids become more independent with their school and homework? I’d love to hear about it.