Managing Homework

As school starts back each year, many families struggle over how and when to schedule homework. Here are a few tips:

  • Let your child help set the schedule – Think about and discuss the child’s needs first. Does your child need a few minutes to unwind and have a snack just after school, or are they the type who want to jump right in and get it done before relaxing? Does your child work best in one long stretch, or would it be best to break the homework time into sessions? Do they prefer to get the hard work out of the way first or knock the easier things off the list and then buckle down? The idea here is the more choices the child has, the greater their sense of control, and they may be more willing to get to work.
  • Consider other pieces of the schedule and mark it on the calendar – Of course, many children work homework around soccer practice and piano lessons. If you have a busy family schedule, it may be best to sit and actually put homework time on the calendar each week.
  • Fully stock their homework area – Before they sit for their first homework session, be sure they have everything they will need. This varies by grade, but at a minimum have sharpened pencils, erasers, and lined paper. Older children may need erasable pens, graph paper, and a calculator. If things are readily available it is one less reason to procrastinate.
  • Two notes on homework area – Be sure their space is well lit. Unless it is just reading, strive to have them seated at a desk or table. I get children laying across the sofa or sprawled out on the floor for reading time, but if there is writing involved, encourage them to get up off the floor and seated.
  • Take a minute to consider what all needs to be done – If there are several tasks, help children make a check list. Just a few tasks, help them to put things in order.
  • Start early teaching them to study and review – By second grade, children should be thinking about reviewing previous work and studying for tests. This is a few minutes additional to their homework time and done regularly, not just the night before a test.

If you want to learn more, join me for a night on Managing Homework & Building Academic Motivation. This is happening Thursday, September 30th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at my Alexandria location. For more information and to register, please visit

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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