The early grades of elementary school may not seem to be all that difficult from an adult’s perspective. After all, kids spend time coloring, counting, cutting and pasting, and doing other seemingly simple tasks. What parents may not realize, though, is that these tasks-and others done in the early grades-teach soft academic skills like concentration, organization, and strategic thinking. Children need to develop these study skills in order to grow and do well throughout school.
It is essential that children get off to a good start in the early grades in order to help establish a pattern of success for the future. Parents can take an active part in helping their children during elementary school by helping them develop solid at-home study skills. This is not a difficult endeavor, nor does it need to be time-consuming. Instead, parents can help follow this guideline:
1. Make studying and doing homework a high priority for your household.
There should be a clear time set aside for when homework should be done after school. If at all possible, this study time should not be disrupted. Homework time could be right after dinner, if your family typically eats early. Or, it could be at a particular time after school–4:00, for example. Sticking with a particular scheduled time helps to strengthen study skills in children.
2. Create a study area in your home for your child to complete homework.
Make sure that the study area is free from distractions. Pencils, erasers, crayons, and other supplies should be in easy reach. The homework area should be near where a parent will be so that the child can receive any necessary help.
3. Keep a positive attitude toward studying and homework.
Parents need to let their children know that they think that learning is fun and rewarding. Doing homework should be a positive experience. For children who balk at studying, parents should try motivating and encouraging them with thoughtful incentives. For example, parents could inspire their children to want to finish their homework by offering a chance to choose that evening’s dessert.
4. Set expectations for homework, along with meaningful consequences for those not met.
Parents should not be completing homework for their children. If a child refuses to finish an assignment or will not work on a particular part of their homework, parents need to have consequences in place. Perhaps the child will lose out on television time for the day, or maybe an early bedtime will be necessary. Before implementing any penalties, however, parents should speak with the child to determine the root of the problem. Sometimes a child will refuse to do homework because he does not understand it or because he finds it to be too difficult; in these cases, parents need to come to the child’s assistance instead of punishing the child.
Following this guideline will put children on the path to developing important at-home study skills. A great deal of learning goes on during the early elementary grades, and parents need to help their children make the most of what they have learned by working on their study skills at home.