Problems with homework; it’s one of the most common complaints we hear about children and adolescents from parents with whom we work.
Some of these problems are, in fact, problems, but many of the problems are just normal issues that need a little re-examination or adjustment to get the students back on track. Let’s start with the basics:
1) Environment: Location, location, location; it’s important in real estate, and it’s important for homework. Homework should be completed in a distraction-free environment that is comfortable for the student. This can be flexible, but examples include a kitchen table, the dining room table, a kitchen counter, or maybe a desk. This space should be uncluttered.
For most typical kids, their bedroom is likely not a good space to use. There are too many items, toys, and activities that are readily available to take their attention away from completing their homework.
2) Supplies: Regardless of the location, all the needed supplies should be readily available for the student to easily access. Pencils, paper, crayons, markers, glue sticks, etc. should all be nearby.
3) Electronics: There shall be NO screens within the homework area – seriously, NO screens unless the homework is being completed on a device. IF the homework is being completed on a device, then there should be no other devices on the side creating distractions.
For example, a student using his or her laptop to complete an assignment should not have their phone beside the laptop with all it’s notifications buzzing, or other distracting media flowing through headphones. “But Mom, listening to my music helps me concentrate” your tween might say…highly unlikely; in fact, the majority of research related to studying seems to indicate that this can interfere with retention and production of information. It’s not a good idea. In fact, it’s preferable for cell phones to be placed in an entirely different room; phones can really be that distracting.
On the other hand, calm, lyric-free music is okay. It doesn’t need to be classical, but it shouldn’t be high energy. Think elevator music.
Now that we’ve looked at some basics regarding the setting, be sure to look for another post that considers some process components for helping with homework completion.
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