There are many ways to help your child succeed in school, and none of them require extra homework for you or your child.
When Your Child Is in Preschool
- Surround your child with books and read to your child every day.
- Let your child see you reading books.
- Turn off the television and computer.
- Give children the opportunity to play with toys that allow them to develop creativity. For instance, crayons, playdough, building blocks and dress-up clothes.
- Give your child plenty of unstructured time to run outside, sit quietly and read or create new games.
- Consider letting your child start kindergarten when slightly older, especially if you have a boy.
- Teach your child to listen and follow directions.
When Your Child Is in Elementary School
- Structure your schedule so your child is able to sleep for at least 10 hours each night. Children are more likely to learn if they're not tired. If your child snores loudly every night, alert your pediatrician — your child may not be sleeping properly.
- Make sure your child eats breakfast every day. Children who eat breakfast do better in school, especially on tasks that require memorization. Breakfast needs to include protein — like meat, eggs, beans or dairy — to assure the child's blood sugar level remains steady during the morning.
- Consider giving your child a multivitamin with iron. Children often don't eat much meat, and kids who are iron-deficient may have more difficulty learning. Some studies show that magnesium and zinc can also help with learning and paying attention, and these minerals are usually included in a multivitamin.
- You may want to consider giving your child an omega-3 supplement, like flax seed oil.
- Continue to read to your child every day, or allow your older child quiet reading time.
- Let your children see you reading and continuing to learn.
- Set aside a specific time each day for homework. If possible, allow your child to play and have a snack after school before beginning homework.
- Continue to limit the amount of time your child spends watching television or playing video games to less than one hour per day. Children who watch less television and spend less time in front of a computer screen do better at paying attention in school.
- Don't allow your child to have a TV or computer in his or her bedroom. Children who have televisions and computers in their bedrooms don't do as well in school.
- Enjoy meals together, and spend the time sharing ideas with each other. Children who eat dinner with their families do better in school.
Homework is important because it teaches children responsibility. Children also learn how to begin and finish a task, follow directions and organize their time. Children do better in school if their parents show an interest in homework — but this does not mean the parent should be the teacher or do the homework for their child.
Your child should have a proper study area for doing homework.
Anyplace can work, so long as:
- It has good lighting
- It is quiet, with no disruption from the TV or radio
- Each child has his or her own place
- Younger children — kindergarteners to third-graders — are close to adults
All supplies your child might need should be kept close to the study area.
You can keep all the supplies in a cardboard box. Scissors, crayons, markers, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, paper and glue should be kept together.
Homework time must be scheduled into your child's daily routine.
You can help your child fit in time for homework by:
- Writing out your child's schedule for each day
- Deciding on a time for homework each day
- Telling your child he or she must do homework or read during homework time
- Having older children write their assignments for the week or month on a calendar
Children should do their homework without the parents' help.
You can check that your child has all the needed supplies, read the directions with your child and answer any questions your child has, and offer praise and encouragement. However, your child should do the homework.
If your child is having difficulty with a homework assignment, please let your child's teacher know as soon as possible.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.