5 steps students can take to do homework effectively

Harris County Department of Education launches new campaign

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - It's study time for 12-year-old Emma Felske of Atascocita Middle School, but with all the distractions teens have at their fingertips these days, how do you make sure your child is getting the most out of homework time and not spinning their wheels and wasting time get nothing done?

With hundreds of thousands of Houston-area kids heading back to school next week, the Harris County Department of Education is launching a new campaign to teach students how to make homework work better for them.

"I don't think the average kid knows really how to do their homework the right way to achieve the maximum results and this can hurt kids in a big way over the course of the school year," said HCDE's Debra Anderson.

With help from Emma and her award-winning science teacher-mother, we're now going to teach you how to teach your children the best way to do homework most effectively:

Step 1: Get rid of all distractions.

We're talking about the cellphone, the television, the stereo, the laptop, the tablet -- leaving your child to study in quiet without trying to respond to a text every two minutes.

Teachers said your child should be at the kitchen table with the parent nearby to supervise, not locked up in their bedroom where anything can be happening.

Step 2: Study in the same place, same time everyday.

This establishes a firm routine that will or should become hard to break, and it makes homework more of a habit and less of a drudgery, teachers say.

It also will help take pressure off of parents' shoulders. You shouldn't have to ask every night if your child's homework has been done.

Step 3: Don't study for too long.

Experts say the ideal homework time limit for kids is 10 minutes per grade level.

That means if your child is in first grade, it's 10 minutes. If they are in fifth grade it's 50 minutes, and so on.

Do more than that and teachers Local 2 spoke to said kids will shut down mentally and lose a lot of what they are trying to accomplish. They have to stay fresh.

Step 4: Parents need to be present.

Education experts said kids need to know you care and that school work is considered a priority in your household, not an after thought.

At least one parent should be present with the child as they work through homework to supervise and answer questions if needed.

If you don't understand what the lesson your child is working on is, ask your child to explain in detail what they are doing.

Teachers said that is one of the best ways for a child to lock-in that knowledge, by re-explaining what they have learned.

Step 5: Don't suffer alone.

If your child is having a lot of trouble doing their homework assignments without your help, or if you do not understand what your child is working on and are unable to help, education experts at HCDE said schedule a parent-teacher conference with your child's teacher and explain your problems, so the teacher can help you one-on-one come up with a plan to succeed.

Those tips have worked beautifully for Emma and Lisa Felske. Emma had straight A's throughout elementary school and now in middle school she is taking all advanced classes and getting high marks.

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