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Homework Tips and Study Skills
< School Success

Homework Tips and Study Skills

Homework is an integral part of schooling in the United States. You can help your child get the most out of homework.

Why Homework?
Homework can develop your child's mind and skills, and reinforce classroom learning. It can also help you keep up with what's happening at school.

Homework can:
  • Improve your child's thinking and memory;
  • Help your child develop good study skills;
  • Encourage your child to use time wisely;
  • Teach your child to work independently; and
  • Teach your child to take responsibility for his or her work.
Teachers assign homework to help your child:
  • Review and practice classroom lessons;
  • Get ready for the next day's class;
  • Learn to use resources such as libraries, reference materials and the Internet;
  • Explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits;
  • Extend learning by applying skills to new situations; and
  • Integrate learning by applying many different skills to a single task (e.g., book reports or science projects).
When you help your child with his homework, you can:
  • Find out what your child is learning;
  • Talk to your child about what he or she is learning; and
  • Spark your child's enthusiasm for what he or she is learning.
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How Can I Help with Homework?
You can create a good environment for doing homework and help tie homework to everyday life.
  • Show that you think education and homework are important.

  • Set a regular time for homework. You will probably need some flexibility in the homework schedule, to accommodate your child's other activities (such as sports or music lessons). But if outside activities prevent your child from finishing his or her homework, he or she may need to drop one of these activities.

  • Set up a quiet, well-lit homework area.

  • Turn off the television and regulate social telephone calls.

  • Provide essential supplies such as pencils, pens, erasers, writing paper and a dictionary. Also consider other supplies your child may need such as a stapler, paper clips, maps, a calculator, a pencil sharpener, tape, glue, paste, scissors, a ruler, index cards, a thesaurus and an almanac.

  • Show your child how what he or she learns in school applies to the adult world. Let him or her see you reading, writing, using math and doing other things that require thought and effort. Talk to your child about what you do at work.

  • Help your child use everyday routines to support what he or she is learning. Teach him or her to play word or math games. Help him or her look up information about something in which he or she is interested. Talk to your child about what he or she sees and hears when you are together.

  • Talk about school and learning activities in family conversations. Ask your child what was discussed in class that day.

  • Attend school activities. Consider volunteering to help in your child's classroom or at special events.

  • Look over completed assignments before your child turns them in and read the teacher's comments on graded homework.
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How Do I Help My Child Develop Good Study Habits?
Good study habits will benefit your child throughout his or her life. You can help develop them if you:
  • Don't do your child's homework. Your child will understand and use information better if he or she does his or her own homework. It will also boost his or her confidence in his or her abilities.

  • Help your child make a schedule to keep track of homework assignments and due dates.

  • Help your child manage time. If your child is assigned a long-term project, discuss the steps needed to complete it on time, including:
    • Selecting a topic;
    • Doing research;
    • Identifying discussion questions;
    • Drafting an outline;
    • Writing a rough draft; and
    • Revising and completing the final draft.
Encourage your child to make a chart that shows how much time he or she expects to spend on each step.

  • Help your child get started on research reports or other big assignments. Take him or her to the library and make sure he or she gets help finding resources and using age-appropriate websites.

  • When your child has completed his or her research, ask him or her to tell you the main points he or she wants to make in the report.

  • Give practice tests.

  • Help your child avoid last-minute studying.

  • Talk to your child about how to take a test. Be sure he or she understands how important it is to read instructions carefully, keep track of time and avoid spending too much time on any one question.
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Checklist for Helping Your Child with Homework
Do you:

checkbox Set a regular time for homework?

checkbox Provide your child with the papers, books, pencils and other items needed to do assignments?

checkbox Provide a well-lit, quiet place to study?

checkbox Set a good example by showing your child that the skills he or she is learning are an important part of adult life?

checkbox Stay in touch with your child's teacher?

checkbox Know what your child's homework assignments are?

checkbox See that your child starts and completes assignments?

checkbox Make sure the television is turned off while your child does homework?

checkbox Help your child get organized?

checkbox Encourage your child to develop good study habits?

checkbox Talk to your child about homework assignments?

For More Information
  • Homework Tips for Parents, U.S. Department of Education, 2002.
  • Helping Your Child with Homework, U.S. Department of Education, 1995, revised 2002.
  • Helping Your Student Get the Most Out of Homework, National PTA, National Education Association, Undated.
  • Taking the Hassle Out of Homework, National PTA, 2000.
  • Helping Your Child with Homework, U.S. Department of Education, 1995, revised 2002.
  • National PTA website.