Establish good study habits


Advice and strategies to help your children read

September 02, 2001

During this time of year there are so many things your child would like to be doing: playing soccer, listening to music, or just hanging out with friends. Usually, homework just isn't on that list. Motivating your child to do homework may seem a formidable task, but the start of school is an ideal time to instill good study habits. Research shows that when parents become involved in schoolwork, children do better. Here are eight tips to help with homework :

1. ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT HOMEWORK POLICY. What kinds of assignments will be given? How much time do you expect my child to spend on homework each night?

2. PROVIDE A STUDY CENTER. Put up a calendar and record assignments on it. Give your child his own set of supplies (pencils, pens, erasers, paper, scissors, scotch tape, glue and a dictionary).

3. SET A SCHEDULE. Many educators feel that homework is most effective in the first through third grades when it does not exceed 20 minutes each school day. From fourth through sixth grades, educators generally recommend 20-40 minutes per day for most students.

4. AVOID DISTRACTIONS. It does not help children to do homework while watching TV or listening to family conversation. However, some children work better with people around. Plan home life, when possible, so that homework time coincides with everyone's reading or doing deskwork, so children can be part of the family without being distracted.

5. CHUNK ASSIGNMENTS. Encourage your child to divide the assignments into manageable steps, such as "What I can do by myself" and "What I need help with." Only help your child on the parts he cannot do independently, such as practicing math facts or doing spelling tests.

6. GIVE PRAISE. Refrain from negative comments, such as, "You're not going to hand in something that messy, are you?" Instead, try, "The teacher will be able to understand your work better if you use your best writing."

7. CHECK YOUR CHILD'S WORK. Look over completed assignments. When the teacher returns homework, read over any comments to see if your child has done the assignment satisfactorily.

8. COMMUNICATE WITH THE TEACHER. Let the teacher know if your child is bored with the assignment because it is too easy, or if he finds it too hard.

Two free resources are:

* Home Team Learning Activities for the Early Grades, available from: American Federation of Teachers, Public Affairs department, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20001.

* Helping Your Child With Homework, from: U.S. Department of Education, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colorado 81009.

-- Susan Rapp

Village Reading Center

Back-to-school advice your kids want

If your kids want some pointers on adjusting to back-to-school routines, check out BrainPOP's online animated movie at / specials / backtoschool / index.weml.

Characters Tim and Moby share advice about the kind of things foremost in the minds of returning students: school safety, classroom etiquette, study tips and how to deal with meeting new people.

More tips can be found on the Web site, such as "How To with Gary and Gary."

In keeping with tech-savvy kids who increasingly are looking to the Net for help on school projects, they discuss online safety issues. Finally, take a short quiz that'll re-ignite synapses well-rested from the summer break.

-- Athima Chansanchai

New York Times Children's

Picture Book Best Sellers

Editor's Note: The children's best-seller list has three categories -- picture books, chapter books, and paperbacks -- which are published in rotation, one category per week.

1. Oh, the Places You'll Go!

by Dr. Seuss (weeks on list: 216)

2. Olivia by Ian Falconer (47)

3. Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin (31)

4. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum (39)

5. Miss Bindergarten Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten

by Joseph Slate (2)

6. The Quiltmaker's Gift

by Jeff Brumbeau (38)

7. So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George (33)

8. Waiting for Wings

by Lois Ehlert (10)

9. Froggy Eats Out

by Jonathan London (7)

10. Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest (2)

Contact us

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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