Q:

My second-grade son's recent report card had excellent grades. I was very pleased until I noticed all the negative checkmarks under "habits and attitudes." Apparently he is doing unsatisfactorily in "works well independently," "begins work on time" and "works neatly." Should I be concerned? -- Problem or Not

A:

The only way to know for sure whether there is a significant problem is to talk to your child's teacher. Good work habits are definitely important at every grade level. Find out what is being done at school to improve these habits.

You can also help your child acquire better work habits at home. Start each homework session for a while by having your child read the directions to you, study the examples and then explain to you what needs to be done. This will help him learn how to get started on an assignment. Watch him do an item or two and then leave his side for him to work independently. If he asks for help, guide him toward figuring out what needs to be done and then leave him again to work independently. Gaining confidence in his ability to do homework independently should carry over to school.