Back to School 101: How to get that homework done

It’s back-to-school season. And this week, WTOP News is looking at how kids and parents can prepare for that return to class. The subject of today’s “Back to School 101” class is the dreaded “h-word” — homework.

At the end of a long school day, there’s nothing less appealing to a kid than a big ol’ pile of homework.

Putting them in a position to get it all done is itself a hefty assignment for parents.

What’s a parent to do? They can begin, one expert says, by setting the scene for their kids’ success. Where homework gets done can become just a much of an issue as when it gets done, said Ann Dolin, the president of Educational Connections Tutoring and the author of “Homework Made Simple.”

The best location, she said, depends on the child. Some prefer a busy area, such as a kitchen; some might need a quieter place. Others might need a regular change of scenery, and “are more attentive when they get to switch locations from day to day.” (If that’s the case, Dolin suggests putting their supplies in a container like a shoe box or shower caddy so they’re portable.)

Just remember that they have been at a desk for much of the day, she said, “so it could be that the sofa or even standing at your kitchen island or even on the floor could be more productive.”

But be wary of the bedroom, which Dolin calls “inherently more distracting.”

And distractions, of course, are the enemy of the task at hand.

“It’s one of the most common obstacles parents face,” she said, “especially these days when so much homework is done online.”

Dolin, for example, cites what she calls “Super Bowl Kids.” Just like the big game, which has an hour of game time but lasts nearly four hours, these distraction-absorbed kids inch through a modest homework assignment, making it take much longer than necessary.

“It’s one of the most common obstacles parents face, especially these days when so much homework is done online,” Dolin said.

The best way to handle them? Set a “stop time,” when everyone in the house has to stop homework, get offline and go to bed. “That in itself can really reduce procrastination because kids are forced to take responsibility of getting started earlier,” she said.

This brings us to one tool that can help ensure your little one gets it all done before the household’s mandatory “stop time.” The Time Timer shows elapsed time with a red disappearing disk and helps with their clock management.

“I love timers because they help kids get started when they might tend to procrastinate if left to their own devices,” Dolin said.

Back to School 101

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