Study Tips: Don't Call It Homework!

 Throughout my years of teaching, I’ve seen the tension that can be created when trying to get children to do their homework. As summer fades away and your kids throw on their backpacks and head back to school, you may want to try these ideas for making homework time less of a hassle.


Banish the word “homework”! Ask kids if they have homework and it’s so tempting for them to say “Nope!” and go play. Then come concerned questions: “Are you sure? What about…?” And that’s when the battles often begin.

Instead, in your house, everyone has study time. If the kids have no homework, that’s just fine. Everyone studies something during “study time” each day, even if it’s reading or reviewing a textbook chapter when no homework is assigned — no TV, no phone calls, no texting. I’ve watched grades improve and family conflicts lessen with this one change in approach.

Create a study place. We are all creatures of habit. If all the materials are in a certain place, study time can be spent studying instead of looking for things.

Set a time. Give children a chance to help plan when their study time will occur. Some kids do much better with playtime until dinner and studying afterwards. Others are too tired and do better with study time shortly after school. Some children are early morning risers who are most ready then.

Stay aware of the computer. It can be very important to doing homework, but it’s so tempting to IM and play games instead.

How to help. You don’t have to have the answers or the know-how to solve every problem. There’s a lot of help out there. At you’ll find some online resources. If your school has a homework helpline, keep the number handy. Even if you know what the answers are, don’t ever do your child’s homework for him. You can ask him to read the problem to you. You can ask him to tell you what parts he understands. You can try to clarify things. If your child remains confused over a period of several days, e-mail or call the teacher about your concerns.

Terri Fields, the author of Burro’s Tortillas (Sylvan Dell, $15.95) and other books for children and young adults, is a former Arizona Teacher of the Year.

Categories: Education Features