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Ohio Today

Homework lessons for parents
By Sarah Welch

In the midst of any school year, many parents fight a nightly homework battle with their children.

Cheryl Niklas Zenko, BSED '89, can help. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft congratulated Zenko during his first State of the State address when her entire fourth-grade class passed all sections of their Ohio proficiency test. Zenko has won Disney American Teacher Award and former Ohio Gov. George Voinovich's Educational Leadership Award and is a National Board Certified Teacher.

Here are some of her answers to your homework questions:

Q: How much time should children spend on homework?
A: A reasonable amount for most first- through third-graders is about 30 minutes a day; fourth- through sixth-graders, 40 minutes; and seventh- through 12th-graders, no more than two hours.

Q: How can parents best help their children with homework?
A: When your child sits down to begin his homework, ask "Do you understand what you need to do?" "Do you have everything you need to complete the assignment?" "Have you done any problems like these during class?" It also helps to understand how your child learns. If your child needs to see things first, draw a chart or picture to illustrate the question. Or your child may need to hear you reading the directions aloud. If he learns best by doing, then provide hands-on examples to illustrate the concept.

Q: Should children do their homework immediately after getting home or be allowed to play or watch TV first?
A: Setting up an after-school schedule everyone can live with is extremely important, regardless of the order of events. However, starting homework after a snack and before dinner is one I've observed to be the most successful. Then if a particular project or challenging question requires more time, you're not cutting into bedtime to finish it.

Q: How can parents help their children establish good study habits?
A: Encouraging your child to do homework is a lifelong process that begins early on. As a preschooler, he can be given simple jobs to do around the house such as unloading the silverware tray from the dishwasher, setting the table or bringing in the mail that allow him to feel pride and a sense of accomplishment. It's important for parents to help their children develop the initiative to complete their homework on their own because it feels good to work hard, do a job well and enjoy the well-deserved benefits of earning good grades.

Sarah Welch, BSJ '03, was a student writer for University Communications and Marketing.

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