Q:

What are some ways to cut down on the two hours or more my seventh-grader spends on his homework almost every night? Because of his activities and dinner, he can rarely get started on doing his homework until 7:30 or 8 at night. -- Too Much Time

A:

According to the informal time rule of 10 minutes of homework a night for each grade level in school, your son should not need to spend more than 70 minutes most nights on homework. He, of course, is spending almost twice that time.

There are several small steps that can be taken that should reduce his homework time:

1. Observation: Watch your son do his homework for several nights to discover how he is using this time. Is all this time being spent working, or are distractions stopping him from really working efficiently? Discover if he is talking on the phone, getting snacks, watching TV or playing games on electronic devices. Eliminating these distractions is a quick and easy way to cut down on homework time.

2. Use a Planner: A planner has the advantage of grouping the work for each subject together, eliminating the need to search for homework assignments. It also should have a list of assignments that need to be done.

3. Starting out Right: The first few minutes of homework time should be spent looking at the list of assignments and deciding the order to do them in. Some students like to start with easy work, while others like to get more difficult assignments out of the way first.

4. Organization: All pencils, pens, paper and other homework necessities should be placed together in a desk, drawer, bag, box or basket to make it easy to access them.

5. The Workplace: The current theory is that it is not necessary to study in the same place all the time. It is believed that moving to a different environment may enhance learning. So a child might like to rotate between different study spots.

6. Problems: If an assignment is utterly bewildering, the child should request parental help. If it is not available, the child should stop puzzling over it and move on. The teacher can be asked for help the next day.

7. A Learning Problem: When a child is spending excessive amounts of time every night on homework and all inefficiencies in doing homework have been removed, it is time to talk to the teacher about a possible learning problem.

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