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09/28/2010

Avoiding Homework Hassle: Turning Off the TV and Hitting the Books without Argument

Back to school can mean long nights of homework hassle for parents and students. Homework, however, does not have to be a time of great stress for families according to Dr. Paula Kramer, chair and professor of occupational therapy at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Dr. Kramer suggests that establishing a routine for homework is the best way to strengthen behavior and avoid conflict.

“Homework is a necessary part of childhood, education, and a critical aspect of development for future productive behaviors,” said Dr. Kramer. “By creating a daily schedule, which involves designated time for homework and studying, children will begin to see homework as a responsibility, just like going to work is for parents.”

Dr. Kramer suggests the following tips to help avoid arguments over turning off the television and hitting the books:

  • Come to an understanding with the student that homework is a necessity. Teach them that homework is something that has to be done on a daily basis.
  • Communicate with the teachers and find out how much time the student is expected to devote to homework each night. Discuss this expectation so the child has an understanding of the average time they will need to devote to homework each night. Setting expectations and time limits will make the child more productive.
  • Allow for active playtime before homework. If the child does not have an afterschool activity such as a sport or dance class, provide 45 minutes to an hour for the child to engage in active behavior prior to homework. The physical activity will help the child burn off energy, settle the nervous system, and refocus mentally for homework.  
  • Create a designated area for homework and studying. Depending upon the child, this could mean setting up a desk space in a bedroom away from family members or clearing off the kitchen table within view of the parent. The important thing to remember is to keep the homework locale consistent, quiet, and free from distractions.
  • Create charts to track homework progress. The chart will not only set a schedule that visibly shows that homework needs to be done every night, but will also allow the child to track progress. Rewards can be given for homework completed successfully a few nights in a row.    
  • Utilize positive reinforcement to encourage good homework and study habits. Positive reinforcement should be used to recognize accomplishments. Small rewards should be given for small tasks, such as a gold sticker on the homework chart for completing homework that week. Larger rewards should be given for larger accomplishments, such as choosing what the family has for dinner on Friday night for an “A” on a test.
  • Be a role model for the child. School can not teach everything. Responsibility for successful behavior also lies at home. Parents need to take an active role in their child’s education and should check in on the child during homework to make sure it is completed properly. Parents should also suggest and model behaviors that teach important life skills that make tasks more manageable. For example, initiate the creation of flash cards on Monday for a test that will need to be studied for on Thursday or set daily “goals” for the child so a project will be completed ahead of its due date. 

The field of occupational therapy focuses on helping people with physical, developmental, and behavioral disabilities participate effectively in meaningful and goal-directed activities. USciences recently received provisional approval to offer a doctor in occupational therapy (DrOT) degree that gives students the necessary cutting-edge knowledge and skills to make an impact on a broad range of patient problems. USciences’ DrOT puts students ahead of the game, setting them up to be leaders in the burgeoning occupational therapy field. Fore more information on USciences' DrOT degree, visit: http://www.usp.edu/academics/collegesDepts/ot.

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