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Is Your House Homework Ready?

How to establish a homework-friendly environment.

The kids are finally back in school, which means homework season is upon us. I know my kids aren't crazy about it, but I make them hit the books as soon as they get home.

They come in, get a snack and get started. Our schedules are so crazy that chances are we are running to some practice or event every night, and I do not want to deal with starting homework when we get home after 8 p.m. or so. They will grumble for the first few weeks but then it is second nature.

To help make the homework experience easier and more efficient, consider the following suggestions and ideas:

  • The smell of success. If you agree with this study, the better your home smells, the better grades your student may get. A study of nearly 5,000 high school students conducted by the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation revealed that top-performing students (those with grade averages of A and B) overwhelmingly—84 percent—used words like “lemony, minty or clean” to describe the smell of their childhood homes. More than one-third (34 percent) of lower performing students (average of C or below) associated negative smells—of urine, fecal matter or mold—with their homes.
  • Tune in or tune out the tunes? Music or no music, that is the question. According to a study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, listening to music can help the brain focus and organize information. A 2009 study by Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz published in the Psychology of Music journal found that children who were exposed to music training performed better on vocabulary and reading comprehension tests than those who were not.
  • Quiet please. With the phone ringing, sounds of kids coming in and out and pets, creating the perfect, quiet studying zone at home is nearly impossible. However, do your best to keep it relatively quiet during study time. That means no TV, no radio, no iPods, no video games and no cell phones. Ask younger siblings and other people in the house to abide by the quiet rules.  
  • Lighten up. To keep kids alert while they study, make sure their work area is well-lit and homework-friendly. If they can sit by a window and soak in the natural light, great. It may help brighten their homework mood.
  • Give them their space. Give your children their own special space to do their homework. Give them enough space to spread out their books, notebooks and laptop if needed. If possible, make it a dedicated homework space, not a shared common space like the kitchen table where they may have to move their stuff come dinner time.
  • Tools of the trade. Make sure your kids have all the tools they need to succeed. Keep plenty of pens, paper, scrap paper, crayons, markers, note cards, scissors and other school accessories close at hand. Store them in fun colored bins, recycled cans or bins.

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