Tips for a peaceful homework time

WASHINGTON – Video games, cell phones, TV – there’s a lot to distract your kids away from doing their homework, and for some families it becomes a daily fight. But former Fairfax County teacher Ann Dolan has a few tips.

Dolan says it’s all about routine. Establishing a time to start homework will make it less of a struggle to get your kids to sit down and focus.

“Younger kids really need to start homework after school,” Dolan says. “Usually a half-hour break is a good amount of time and then have the expectation they get started.”

She says that older kids will try to push the envelope, but try to get them started before dinner.

While a routine time to start homework is good, Dolan says that when it comes to where kids should study, it’s better to mix it up.

“When kids change locations from day to day they are more productive,” Dolan says. “So the place should be distraction-free, but it can change. Maybe one day it’s the home office, next day it’s the dining room.”

Dolan suggests keeping technology and homework separate because it can be distracting, but if it’s offered as a reward, homework time can be tolerable.

“So maybe they work on their homework 20 or 30 minutes, and then they can go check their messages send a quick text but then it’s back to homework.”

Many parents worry that their kids are spending too much time on homework.Dolan says the rule of thumb is 10 minutes of homework per grade level – 30 minutes for a third-grader, an hour for a sixth-grader and so on.

“If you’re finding your student is taking much more time than that,” Dolan says, “let the teacher know.”

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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