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According to experts, students should have 10 minutes of homework for every grade level in school. So your fourth grader should spend about 40 minutes on homework each night. Unfortunately, this doesn’t include breaks, procrastination, or stalling, which often play a big part in evening homework. So how can you help your child complete his homework in a reasonable amount of time? Ideally, your child has already completed his homework when you get home from work. But, for parents of less-than-motivated students, some tips:
- Make homework the first priority. Students should complete homework immediately upon getting home from school. If this doesn’t happen because an adult isn’t available to supervise, make it your priority when you get home from work. Nothing’s worse than realizing, at bedtime, that your child still has homework left undone.
- Set up a study area with few distractions, but where you can still supervise. This allows your child to work independently, knowing you are available and watching. If the study area is in the kitchen, you can even start dinner while your child is working!
- Set boundaries and stick to them. Do not allow television, telephone, radios, and snacks to be on or available during homework time. Further, do not allow your child to take repeated breaks or engage in conversations outside of homework questions.
- For reading homework, have your child read aloud. Not only is your child completing homework, but you can also hear how he is progressing and offer assistance. Plus, you can clean up or work on dinner while listening.
- Complete reading logs at bedtime. Reading together is a great way to end your day, plus you can read bedtime stories and finish this important homework assignment at the same time!
- Come up with a routine and stick with it. Most children thrive on routines because they know what to expect. If your child fights the homework battle as you are establishing this routine, stick it out. Once he sees you are serious, he likely will work hard without argument.
If these strategies don’t help reduce the power struggle that homework sometimes becomes, talk to your child’s teacher. She may be able to help you with ideas that are individually tailored for your child’s success. If this doesn’t help, see what other teachers have to say. Or, research other ideas to help motivate your child to complete his homework, such as those found on Education World. Most importantly, remember that homework is not busy work. It is an extension of your child’s classroom and is vital to his educational success.