Parenting tips abound for raising teenagers, but often these strategies overlook the importance of teaching our children how to study or take advantage of the educational opportunities that come their way. As our sons and daughters make their way through the school system, they will inevitably be faced with homework. For most families, homework is a touchy subject that often leads to arguments, tears, and slamming doors.
Although we can’t take that calculus test for them, we can help by offering homework support so they can succeed today and tomorrow.
Listed below are eight ways we can embrace homework to help our kids prepare for their future:
Remain calm. Take a deep breath and focus on helping a teen. If we get upset, flustered, or judgmental we won’t be any good to our kids. If we are overwhelmed, we can bet our children are, too.
Help them prioritize. There will be days when the piles of work and chapters to be read seem unending, but we can help our children see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some teens respond better to finishing small easy tasks first so they can focus solely on more complicated assignments later. However, other students perform better when they knock out the harder work first. We know our children and can help them prioritize their assignments so they can stay on top of their courses.
Create an area ideal for studying and working on projects. Teens often want to listen to music, watch videos, or lay in their room while doing homework. Unfortunately, this can be distracting and prevent them from being productive. Help them stay on task by creating a comfortable work space with proper lighting and easy access to supplies. Even though we might not be able to find the cosine and tangent of a triangle, we can ensure they have sharpened pencils and erasers at their fingertips.
Seek help from the Internet. Today’s teens might be taking advanced courses and even college credit classes. For many of us, that means our sons and daughters are working with complicated theories and equations. It’s alright to admit we don’t know all the answers, but we can help them locate the proper resources to solve the problems. Look online for reputable sites or videos from professional teachers that explain concepts and model the proper techniques. A good site to consider is Khan Academy or scroll through the education section on YouTube. Sometimes it just takes a different explanation or perspective to help a child grasp new ideas.
Don’t work harder, work smarter. Take advantage of quiz sites like Kahoot! or Quizlet to help review for tests and make studying a little more fun. Use different fonts, like Comic Sans, when reading typed notes or go “old school” by writing notes out on paper to help with comprehension and memory.
Take small breaks. Homework can be overwhelming, especially if a teen is tired or frustrated. After extended periods of focused work, revitalize a teen with a short recess. Encourage them to get up, stretch, or take a mental breather for five to ten minutes. The key to using breaks is that they should have a clear beginning and ending to keep kids productive.
Get them organized. Most teens need help learning to organize and prioritize. Their rooms are a mess, their lockers are stuffed with papers, and nobody knows what is lurking in their cars. As our kids become more independent, they will need to learn how to keep track of assignments and schedules. Buy them a planner, install a scheduling calendar on their phones, or teach them how to track their commitments on a computer to make this job easier. Once they are organized, they can realistically look ahead and plan accordingly. Hopefully, this eliminates last minute projects or late nights.
It’s okay to let them fail. Unfortunately, if we are constantly stepping in and solving their problems, we are only setting them up for a serious reality check when they head out on their own when a college scholarship or employment is on the line. As a parent, it is hard to sit back and let your child crash and burn. However, teens need to fail every now and then so they can learn how to get back up. Thankfully, we can be there to dust them off and brainstorm ways to avoid a similar scenario in the future.
How do you support your teen when it comes to homework and learning study habits?
Contributor: Amy Williams, a journalist and former social worker passionate about parenting and education. You can follow Amy on Twitter.