1. Do It as Early as Possible: Best for Everyone
On days when there are no afternoon activities, give your child a time frame — say, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. — to get down to business. This gives them some control over their schedule (some kids need a longer break after school, and others need to start right away to keep the momentum going). The only rule is that 5 o’clock is the latest time to start. If you work, that means homework duties will fall to the after-school caregiver. This way, the bulk of it can get done before your kiddo’s too pooped — and you can just review and wrap things up once you get home.
2. Create a Call List: Best for Forgetters
From kindergarten on, kids need a list of three or four classmates they can call on when they forget an assignment, says Ann Dolin, M.Ed., a former teacher and author of Homework Made Simple. The study buddy can read your child the spelling words over the phone, or his mom can snap a pic of the worksheet and text it to you.
3. Build Confidence: Best for the Intimidated
When kids don’t get something right away, they may feel like they’re stupid and start to shut down. You can short-circuit negative thinking by sitting down and figuring out the first problem together. That alone can help him remember how to do the rest. Then heap on the praise: “You did a great job on that one! Try the next one now.”
Another strategy: Have your child show you similar problems he worked on in class. That may jog their memory so they can retrace the steps. Plus, it helps you see what they've already learned.
4. Cut It in Half: Best for the Overwhelmed
That’s right — you can make an executive decision to lighten your child’s load for a night, if:
- They don’t understand the assignment.
- The assignment is vague or touches on a topic they're not ready for.
- They are exhausted from a long day of school, gymnastics, and an argument with their best friend.
5. Change the Scene: Best for Daydreamers
Something as simple as a special place to work can boost a child’s motivation and, in turn, their confidence.
6. Keep the Positive Feedback Coming
Little kids need instant feedback, emphasize what your kid’s done well. After he’s finished, take their paper and say “Hmm, I’m looking for something . . .” After scanning it for a minute, say “Aha! Look how well you wrote your letters in this part!”