1. Turn Off The TV Set
Make a house rule, depending on the location of the set, that when it is study time, it is "No TV" time. A television set that is on will draw youngsters like bees to honey.
What about the radio? Should it be on or off? Contrary to what many specialists say, some youngsters do seem to function well with the radio turned on to a favorite music station. (Depending on the layout of your house or apartment, maybe an investment in earphones would be worthy of consideration.)
2. Designate Specific Areas For Homework And Studying
Possibilities include the child's room or the kitchen or dining room table. Eliminate as much distraction as possible. Since many young people will study in their own rooms, function becomes more important than beauty. Most desks for young people really don't have sufficient space to spread out materials. A table that allows for all necessary supplies such as pencils, pens, paper, books, and other essentials works extremely well.
Consider placing a bulletin board in your child's room. Your local hardware store sells wallboard that might not look too pretty and isn't framed, but a 4' x 3' section is inexpensive and perfect on which to post pertinent school items. You might want to paint or cover it with burlap to improve its appearance or let your child take on this project.
Encourage the use of a planner, small book or pad for writing down assignments so that there is no confusion about when certain assignments must be turned in to the teacher.
Keeping general supplies on hand is important. Check with your child about his needs. In fact, make it his responsibility to be well supplied with paper, pencils, note pads, notebook paper, etc.
3. Set A Consistent Schedule
Try to organize the household so that supper is served at a standard time, and once it and family discussions are over, it's time to crack the books. If the student doesn't have other commitments and gets home reasonably early from school, some homework can be done before supper.
Consider your child's developmental level when setting the amount of time for homework. While high school students can focus for over an hour, first-graders are unlikely to last more than 15 minutes on a single task. Allow your child to take breaks, perhaps as a reward for finishing a section of the work.
4. Organize Study And Homework Projects
Get a large calendar, one that allows space for jotting down things in the daily boxes. Rip it apart so that you (and the child) can sequentially mount the school months for the current semester. For example, you can tear off September, October, November, December and January and mount them from left to right across one wall. Have the child use a bold color writing instrument (felt tip pen) to mark exam dates in one color, reports that are coming due in a different color, etcetera. This will serve as a reminder so that things aren't set aside until the last dangerous moment.
5. Go Above And Beyond
One of the most misunderstood aspects of schoolwork is the difference between studying and doing homework assignments.
Encourage your child to do things like:
- Take notes as he's reading a chapter
- Learn to skim material
- Learn to study tables and charts
- Learn to summarize what he has read in his own words
- Learn to make his own flashcards for quick review of dates, formulas, spelling words, etc.