Many primary grade kids are juggling homework assignments and preparing for end-of-unit tests in this part of the school year. Current research claims students feel more stress at school than ever before. Fortunately, there are ways in which parents and caregivers can provide support to ease the pressure of children’s academic demands.
Establish homework expectations
Among the benefits of meaningful homework in the elementary grades is enhanced classroom learning and an opportunity to practice study skills that are key to educational success. A strong homework regimen develops a sense of responsibility and work ethic that will serve kids throughout their scholastic years and beyond.
Communicating to your child that you consider homework a priority can have a positive influence. Endorse the intention by creating a pleasant environment that is conducive to studying. Requirements are simple: a well-lit, comfortable, and quiet workspace with necessary supplies on hand.
Some child development professionals recommend the space be in an open area rather than isolated in a child’s room. You can easily monitor the attention of your child, and be available to interpret assignment instructions, offer guidance, or answer questions if needed. Resist providing answers or completing assignments yourself. Learning from mistakes is an important part of the process!
Set up a start and end time, and avoid background distractions such as TV or a sibling playing video games. A guideline for an effective home study period is about 10 minutes per elementary grade level. For example, fourth-graders could expect about 40 minutes of homework or studying each school night, depending on the level of rigor maintained by the teacher and school. Talk to the teacher if your child spends significantly more time than this guideline on a regular basis.
Teach organizational skills
Organization contributes to focus by eliminating diversions such as searching for materials or instructions. Tools for staying organized at the elementary level commonly include a notebook for assignments and a folder for projects and lessons to be completed at home. Teach your child to monitor assignments using a calendar and keep track of and prioritize tasks by creating a To-Do list. Each school night, check your child’s progress to ensure she does not fall behind.
Demonstrate how to separate completed and graded schoolwork into a special bin and throw away papers that are no longer needed. Emphasize the importance of an orderly desk to easily locate materials. Keep in mind organizational ability is learned, and, is facilitated by practice.
Coach study and test prep habits
Find out your child’s test schedule to promote studying ahead to ease night-before-the-test jitters. Ensure the necessary materials such as notes, study guides, or textbooks are available at home before you begin. You can also reduce potential overwhelm by coaching your child to divide study tasks into small, manageable activities. Introduce strategies such as mnemonic devices to aid information recall. Encourage short breaks after 45 minute intervals, allowing kids to process and remember the material they have been studying.
If studying and exam prep continue to evoke frequent worry and anxiety after implementing these strategies, seek assistance from your child’s teacher or school counselor.
The early years of school are a critical time for you to be informed and supportive of your child’s education. Talk about school every day so your child understands that doing well in school is important. Actively listen to how she describes her school experience, ask open-ended questions, and give your undivided attention. In addition, don’t underestimate a nutritional breakfast, healthy lunch, and a good night’s sleep as mainstays to reducing academic stress.
Helping children learn effective study skills when they are young will instill good learning habits for life!
The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Approach to Homework and Parenting That Helps Our Children Succeed in School and Life by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman [parent shelf]
The Organized Child: An Effective Program to Maximize your Kid’s Potential — in School and in Life by Richard Gallagher [parent shelf]
Hoffses, K. (Ed.). (2018, August). 10 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Elementary School. Retrieved from Kidshealth.org [website]