N. Leigh Dunlap


“Why do I have to do homework?”

“Because we want you to suffer” may be the tempting response, but try to hold it back. Homework reinforces and prepares students for in-school lessons. It trains kids to use resources, and, in younger students, sets up work and study habits that will strengthen their future academic success. Kids are not only learning their lessons, they’re learning how to learn. Clearly, it’s important to the big education picture.

As with so many things, parents are they key to homework success – no, not by doing it for them; we all know that only hurts in the long run, right? Rather, start by making it clear to your kids that you value education and that, since homework is part of it, you expect them to complete it. Then help by setting aside a time for homework and only for homework. Designate a space with as few distractions as possible. Same time, same space, no negotiation. The more consistent and reliable this routine, the more success you’ll have enforcing it. Your child should help with this part of it. Does your kid really, really need a break between school and homework? Maybe your solution is a one-hour break for a snack and some screen time, then back to work. Maybe a period of doing chores helps to make homework a nice change. The idea is to devise a plan with your child that works and stick to it.

What if you have a child with ADHD?

In this case, the “same time, same place” rule is not just desirable but critical. Be prepared though, to do some tinkering until you get it right. Kids with ADHD may share some traits, but their differences can be staggering. Some kids can’t handle any noise at all while others find that rhythmic, thumping bass actually helps to keep them on track. Some kids work fine at a desk while others do better stretched out on the floor. The trick is to be rigid about time and place, but flexible about individual technique. With all kids, no matter how frustrating it can be, try to keep things positive; “Hey, you’re making progress” is more likely to keep them working at it than “That’s all the further you’ve gotten?”

Did You Know:

The world’s very first schools were established in ancient Sumeria and Egypt…where kids no doubt complained about too much hieroglyphics homework.