25 Back to School Tips

Back to School, Back to Homework

25 Tips to Help Your Student Succeed This Year

 Transitioning from a summer of sleeping in, playing all day and staying up late, to a strict school regime with homework and tests is tough for anyone. Factor in things like ADHD, multiple extracurricular activities and a new teacher (and, sometimes, a new school!), and you’ve got the recipe for homework struggles.

So what’s a parent to do? Before you get resigned to another year of tutoring, stimulant medications for ADHD, or late-night homework marathons, consider these 25 tips to help your student succeed.

  1. Practice what you preach. “You’re going to rot your brain with all that TV!” Do you think that only applies to your offspring? Set a good example by spending your free time reading, playing an instrument, gardening, exercising­—you name it!
  2. Make homework technology-free. Unless they need to type a paper or do research on the internet, require that all phones, tablets and computer be off.
  3. Designate a regular homework time. Some kids need to come home from school and unwind. Others do best if they complete homework right after school. Either way, give them a healthy snack to sustain their energy.
  4. Celebrate their achievements. Put their best work on display or let them overhear you “boasting” about their efforts or accomplishments to others.
  5. Get them brain training. Unlike tutoring, personal brain training strengthens the cognitive skills that make up the foundation of ALL learning. These include brain skills like memory, auditory processing, attention, processing speed, logic & reasoning, and visual processing. It also gives kids a HUGE boost of confidence!
  6. Check their work. Go through their assignments every night and review their homework.
  7. Let them make mistakes. Don’t do any of their work for them, but rather be available to answer questions. If the homework is out of your comfort zone, ask the school for extra help.
  8. Set up a specific study area. A comfortable area stocked with school essentials can help keep your student focused on their work.
  9. Talk to the teachers. Make sure you understand what the teacher is looking for and discuss how you can work as a team to help your student succeed.
  10. Create a calendar. Keep track of upcoming tests, writing assignments and projects and check in with your student to make sure they’re preparing early.
  • Ensure they’re taking the correct level classes. Advanced placement classes can help prepare your student for college, but not every class is a good match for every student. Talk to the teacher and evaluate if it’s the right fit for your child.
  1. Feed them brain food. Sugars, food dyes and highly processed foods can wreak havoc on kids’ brains. Opt for foods that help keep the brain at peak function: blueberries, salmon, sardines, eggs, nuts and leafy green vegetables.
  2. Reevaluate medications. Allergy medications can put your student in a fog. Stimulant medications for ADHD can have side effects. Consider allergen immunotherapy and one-on-one cognitive skills training to address the root cause of ADHD: weak attention skills.
  3. Ensure they get plenty of quality sleep. Sleep helps recharge and “reboot” your brain. Too few winks and your memory, attention and processing speed all suffer.
  4. Learn to recognize signs of frustration. They are lots of reasons that kids procrastinate or take forever to do simple homework. Find out if the work is boring, too hard or too confusing and address those concerns immediately.
  5. Acknowledge progress. Point out when they’re moving through multiplication problems faster or reading with fewer mistakes.
  6. Have them do the hardest work first. Do the most difficult work when their brains are primed. Once it’s behind them they’ll feel relieved to breeze through the easier homework.
  7. Make learning fun. Incorporate math, history, English and science into everyday tasks and weekend excursions. Let them work with fractions in recipes, visit a museum on the weekend or speak another language at home.
  8. Give them the tools to stay organized. Help your child or teen choose a color system for binders and/or find apps that help students stay organized by sending email alerts.
  • Have a study buddy. Having a friend or sibling to do homework with can help students stay focused and accountable. Just make sure you monitor progress to make sure the work isn’t being replaced with play (or talking).
  1. Make them accountable to bring books home. Every kid is going to forget something at school once in a while. But regular occurrences may signal a deeper problem. Create an end-of-day checklist for them to review at school if the problem is memory. If it’s intentional, you’ll need to address the reasons behind it.
  2. Learn from mistakes. Go through test problems that came back marked as incorrect and explain how to get the correct answer.
  3. Do weekend homework on Friday. By doing their weekend homework Friday afternoon or evening, the material is still fresh from what they were taught in school. Waiting until Sunday night can cause added frustration when their memory has faded a bit.
  4. Don’t let their brains go on vacation. The Summer Slide is a real thing, as is the loss of knowledge that occurs over the long holiday break and Spring Break. Keep your student learning by encouraging reading, writing and brain games over long breaks.
  5. Use games and apps that build brain skills. Not all video and board games are created equal. Look for games that build skills like memory, processing speed, attention and logic and reasoning.

RESOURCES:

  1. For a free downloadable “Games for Skills” chart showing which popular games (e.g., chess, Simon, memory games, Battleship) build which brain skills, visit: UnlockTheEinsteinInside.com.