From the NYU CHILD STUDY CENTER: ASK THE EXPERT
How Can I Help My Child Start School on the Right Foot?
Each of my children approached homework in a somewhat different manner. Only one came home immediately after school, took out her books, and plugged away on her own until she finished. A few needed some rest and relaxation time and a bite to eat before starting, and one frequently needed help and supervision. This daughter occasionally forgot her books in school and did not all always write down the homework assignments.
Despite the potential hassles, homework is essential to learning; it allows students to review classroom material, practice academic skills, learn to work independently, and develop organizational skills. Homework is also an important tool for linking parents and teachers.
While there are periodic outcries in the national press that the amount of homework being given to our children is onerous and overly burdensome, most studies suggest that children are not doing enough homework. What is true is that the amount of homework given to children has been increasing at the same time that the demand for time for extracurricular activities is increasing.
Given that homework is here to stay, the most useful approach for parents is to be involved but not intrusive. It is a parent’s responsibility to find out what the teachers’ expectations are, show interest, provide encouragement, and be available to help out. Remember, helping out does not mean doing the homework.
The following suggestions on how you can help your child complete his/her homework with less stress and frustration are by Susan Schwartz, the Clinical Director of the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement here at the NYU Child Study Center.
Choose a specified space and time to do homework. Remove distractors. Help your child concentrate by turning off the television, limiting personal telephone calls, and setting a good example by reading and writing yourself.
Make sure that your child has all the tools and supplies needed to complete work. It is a good idea to accompany your child to an office supply store at the start of each semester to purchase new school supplies as necessary.
Help your child to set realistic goals regarding how long each assignment may take so that he or she knows that they will also have free time.
Talk about the assignment so your child can figure out what needs to be done. Also, reviewing a completed assignment is helpful. For younger children, it is appropriate to help them with their homework and closely monitor their progress. For children age 12 and over, you may want to leave it up to your child’s discretion whether he/she wants help.
If your older child does not ask for help with homework but you notice that he/she is having difficulty, you will want to intervene and help your child get outside supports (i.e., extra-help sessions with a teacher, after-school study sessions, individualized student homework contracts, or a tutor).
Regardless of your child’s age, never underestimate the importance and impact of your praise and encouragement on your child’s success. Talking about an assignment and showing interest in your child’s schoolwork may also help your child maintain his/her motivation and interest.
I hope that the new school year is a successful one in your home.#
This monthly column provides educators, parents and families with important information about child and adolescent mental health issues. Please submit questions for ASK THE EXPERT to Glenn S. Hirsch, M.D., Medical Director at the NYU Child Study Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. To subscribe to the ASK THE EXPERT Newsletter or for more information about the NYU Child Study Center, visit www.AboutOurKids.org or call 212-263-6622.