Ask the Expert with Dr. Sara Laule

. January 31, 2016.

Some kids are naturally going to be more studious than others. The biggest thing you can do to give your child an academic boost is – go figure – offer him unconditional love and support. “Encourage your child to do his best,” said Dr. Sara Laule, pediatrician at the University of Michigan Health System. Take advantage of the new year and create priorities. Have a positive attitude about homework because your child will pick up on it. “The family can make a new year’s resolution and set a good example by setting goals, getting things done and teaching kids to be school-oriented or motivated to do things for themselves,” said Laule.

The right environment

Make sure there is an available environment that is quiet, well-lit and conducive to good studying. “Have a designated time and place to do homework,” said Sherlonya Turner, manager of the homework help department at the Ann Arbor District Library.  You may want to give your child a drink and healthy snack so he does not feel a need to get up in the middle of working. Some kids like listening to instrumental music as they work while others do better in silence. Reading the work aloud can help some kids stayed focused. If your child has a subject that he does not like, have him do it first to get it out of the way.

Services and keeping a planner

By having open lines of communication with the school, you will know what is expected of your child and how you can assist him. “Be in contact with the teacher about tips that might work best for your child because each kid has a different style,” said Turner. The library can be a great resource for the child who is struggling and frustrated or even the child who just likes to talk about his work with an adult. “We offer in-person tutoring on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and then we have online homework help where we contract with a service with people with teaching experience who provide help for kids third grade and up between 2pm and 11pm because those are typically the hours when students are doing their homework,” said Turner.

Writing things down can keep kids more accountable. “For middle school students, using their planner and monitoring their grades can help, and for all students it helps them when there is no homework because there is a difference between homework and studying,” said Leslie Geiser, director at the Sylvan Learning Center.  Talk about reasonable and attainable goals.  “If your child is trying to improve his grades it is realistic to move from C’s to B’s and on to A’s,” said Geiser. Help your child with time management by figuring out how much time is practical to spend on homework so it does not become overwhelming. “My average rule of thumb is at least 10 minutes per grade level, so if you are in third grade ten times three is 30 minutes and if you are in tenth grade, ten times ten would be 100 minutes,” said Geiser. This should be time that is set aside without technology.  

Homework vs. Studying

Again, homework and studying are not the same. “Homework is typically just completing assignments that were assigned to you that day but studying involves more and goes beyond the literal and into drawing conclusions and relationships,” said Geiser. Determining your child’s learning style can simplify things. “He may be visual, auditory or hands-on and someone who is visual may want to use different charts and tables but if they are auditory will want to record and listen to presentations over and over,” said Geiser. Rewarding both the effort your child puts in as well as the good grades that he earns can make him feel good and help him want to continue doing well.  The reward can be as simple as going to the park or as large as going to a children’s museum. Remember that by reinforcing that kids can concentrate and succeed, your child will likely feel more inclined to do his homework.