7 Ways to Support Optimal Homework Habits

We’ve got skin in the game and when our children don’t get a concept right away, and it’s easy for parents to get frantic, suddenly having visions that the kid won’t make the college cut, never mind the child is in kindergarten right now. One problem with homework is that we grownups have gone out of our way to suck the fun out of it, and somehow we keep piling it on as they grow up. We nag them and they roll their eyes; that’s how it goes, right?

Well, it doesn’t have to be, if we adjust our attitudes and expectations. Sometimes helping takes different forms. We can also think structurally about homework and school performance to make adjustments as needed. A few pointers to keep in mind going into this school year:

  1. Block out the same time every weekday. If your child has afterschool activities, try carving out time between soccer and dinner. The idea is to automate the work and set the brain clock so that your child is primed to work.
  1. Study space. This is also key. Just like setting the time, allocating a comfy space to get down to academic business can help them focus. They shouldn’t do homework on their bed or at the kitchen table with a bunch of activity around them.
  1. Don’t jump in and save them. Our protective natures will often try to solve the problem when they are struggling with something, but that struggle is a way more valuable learning tool than getting the individual problem right. It creates a sense of accomplishment when they finally catch on.
  1. Consequences for not doing the work. When they are young, they just need practice working independent of the classroom, but as they get older, they need to feel the weight of cause and effect when they don’t do their jobs. It could be as simple as restricting time with the device when the homework doesn’t get turned in.
  1. Know the difference between growing up and organizational issues. We all forget sometimes, procrastinate, get bored, or plain mess up, but if you start to see a pattern of disinterest, signs that your child doesn’t engage or make a consistent effort, that can indicate something deeper. Teachers often see these patterns as possible signs of dyslexia, emotional problems, or learning disabilities and it’s a good idea to rule these things out early.
  1. Recognize when you are out of your depth. When a particular subject is holding your child back, by all means, see if you can help. However, tutors are neutral parties that can take the emotional element out of the equation and patiently review in a way that parents often can’t. Ironically, parents who specialize in something like engineering are often the worst candidates to explain science to their kids, because they have such a full understanding of the subject, they have trouble going back to the basics. Give tutelage a shot, but be ready to hand it off to someone else if it’s not helping.
  1. Push back on busywork. You have no idea how common it is for parents to look at their children’s assignments and think: “This is how they are supposed to spend their study time?” Kids get overloaded, and schools can go overboard. Check in with the teachers when you see this happening so you know that the work they are doing is part of the curriculum.

We can facilitate our kids’ interests in an academic setting if we take the time to talk to them about it, present low-stakes learning opportunities, and show them real-life examples of scholastic concepts in action. At a certain point, it’s up to them to put in the hard work, but they will achieve great things in any arena they choose if they form good study habits.



  1. http://www.internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingstatistics.htm
  2. http://www.onlinesafetysite.com/P1/Teenstats.htm
  3. http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/cyberbullying-social-media.html
  4. http://www.eharmony.com.au/dating-advice/trust-and-safety/10-ways-to-catch-out-a-catfish#.V18GFJMrJqw


About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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