Teaching children to do homework independently


Q: How do you get a child to want to do homework without mom and dad's help?

A: Getting a child to want to do homework independently is much like getting a child to want to set the table or clean his or her room without a parent helping. Like these other tasks, homework can't be classified as something that is genuinely fun most of the time. However, a child can gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by himself or herself - building pride in his or her efforts.

The sooner homework becomes the child's responsibility rather than the parent's, the sooner you are on the right track. When a child is at the fourth-grade level, you certainly should not be hovering over him or her doing homework. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use a homework contract to spell out the times and places where homework will be done. You also might want to include a reward clause in the contract as your child learns to do most of his homework independently.

For children at the fourth-grade level, parents can look over the assignments at the start of the homework time and help the child decide which work will be done first. During this time, directions for doing the homework should be discussed. It is also helpful to show children how to use their textbooks to answer questions about homework assignments. For example, in math, children can rework problems that are similar to those in the assignment. Following these steps gradually teaches children how to handle homework by themselves.

Homework is easier for children to do if they have an assignment notebook to write down all assignments and a calendar to write down long-term assignments so that study time can be planned.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or go to dearteacher.com.

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