August 23

Homework Tips for Parents


School is back and with that comes HOMEWORK.   Research, including the Harvard Family Research Project, shows that when parents are involved with their children at school, they have a better chance at succeeding.  See below for some general homework tips.  But first for a little “homework” humor to start the year off right.


My Excuses by Arielle Perkins (January 21 1990/Washington) abridged version
I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer’s on the blink.I accidentally dropped it
in the soup my mom was cooking.
My brother flushed it down the toilet
when I wasn’t looking.

My mother ran my homework
through the washer and the dryer.
An airplane crashed into our house.
My homework caught on fire.

Some aliens abducted me.
I had a shark attack.
A pirate swiped my homework
and refused to give it back.

It took so long to make these up
I realized, with dread,
it would have just been easier
to do the work instead.

10 General Homework Tips


1. Let Them Unwind – Your child has been working hard all day.  Give your child 15-20 minutes after school to relax or play outside before jumping into their homework.

2. Keep snacks on hand or have your child eat before starting their work– A hungry child is a distracted child.


3. Set the scene – It is common sense, but such an important strategy.  A quiet, well-lit area in your home is the best place to do homework.  Prevent any distractions, such as turning off the television, putting away the games, changing the phone to “manner mode” etc.

4. Prepare all the material s/he needs – This includes all the basics such as pens, paper, glue, dictionary, etc.  Some parents create a homework kit.

5.  Establish a regular time – Try to establish a set time each day for doing homework.  Find a plan that works for your family and stick with it.

6. Be positive, positive, positive – A positive attitude from the parent goes a long way.  The attitude you express about homework will be the one your child develops, too.  Make sure to include plenty of praise during the process.   Every child welcomes praise from his/her parent.

7. Do the harder homework first – Do more challenging assignments first, so your child is most focused.

8. Provide guidance, not answers –This is very important as giving answers does not help your child learn the material.    Keep a balance in how much you help your child.  Homework is a great way to teach your child to be an independent lifelong learner.

9.  Teach organizational strategies – Make sure that your child has a diary/planner and is using it correctly.

10.  Watch for signs of failure or frustration – Let your child take a short break if s/he has difficulty focusing.  Talk to the teacher/tutor if you find that your child is seriously struggling.

There are many fantastic websites with homework tips.  For homework tips for various grades check out:

August 23

What Did You Do in School Today?

What Did You Do in School Today?

Somebody once said there are two questions that parents ask and children hate:

“What did you do in school today?” and “How was school?”

You might be one of the lucky parents who asks these questions and gets a bubbly response.  Other parents ask “What did you do in school today?” and the answer is “Nothing”.   Or the parent asks, “How was school?” and the child says, “OK”.

There are a few strategies you could try to encourage communication about school:

1. Ask specific questions, like “Did anything funny happen today?” “What new books are in the library?” “Who sat next to you at lunch?” “What did you like best about your school day?” “What did you do in PE?” “What was your favorite part of your day?”  “What part of the day do you wish you could change?”

2.  Be aware of your child’s life at school.  Look at the school web site and read the class blog.  This will allow you to use specific information as a “jumping off” point or conversation starter.  If you know an author visited your child’s grade level or you know there is a field trip coming up, you can talk about events that are immediately relevant to your child.

3.  Greet your child enthusiastically but save the questions for later.  Comments like “Hi, I missed you” or “Hi, I hope you had a good day in school” do not immediately put your child on the spot.  Your child might be hungry and tired after school and need time to relax a bit. Try talking later.

4.  Try open-ended questions instead of questions that can be answered in one word.   If you ask “Did you go to Japanese class today?” your child can say “Yes” and be done.  Asking “What are you doing in Japanese class?” requires a more thoughtful response.

5.  Choose your timing.  You could let the conversation emerge naturally, discussing the day while cooking or driving home. This suits children who don’t like face-to-face interrogations.  But some children want your undivided attention or they feel you don’t really care.  Others are more apt to talk about school just before bedtime.

6.  Listen to your child.  S/he may drop hints or lead you into conversation by saying “We planted seeds today”.

7.  Talk about your day first.  If a parent shares a joke that somebody told at lunch or mentions interesting current event news, this might stimulate the beginning of a conversation that will eventually get around to school.

Not all children are talkers.  Some like to write in journals – which they may or may not share with you.  Some might like to express themselves by drawing. Young children in particular may “play school” and this sometimes gives you insight into events.  As children mature in the preteen and teen years, they naturally become more private as they try to develop their individuality.  Regardless of age, children benefit from communicating with their parents.

Thank you for your efforts to find ways to keep the lines of communication open.