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Psychologist: Start good homework habits with structure

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Dr. Joe Austerman  (Credit: Cleveland Clinic) Dr. Joe Austerman (Credit: Cleveland Clinic)

SOURCE & PHOTO CREDIT: Cleveland Clinic

It is time to talk about homework.  You know it's coming, so before the after school battles begin, how can we create good homework habits as soon as school starts?

Despite some research that says homework does nothing to benefit a child, it's not going away anytime soon.

A 2004 University of Michigan survey of thousands of students found time spent on homework had gone up by 50 percent since the 1980s.

Cleveland Clinic child psychologist Dr. Joe Austerman says the key to tackling the math, science or social studies is structure.

"Think of repetition and consistency.  You want to do the same thing every night and have that pattern build in, so when you have that pattern build in, it becomes second nature."

So the first step is dedicating time to homework.  Make it a priority.  Ask your child to block out at least an hour a day to get it done.  Designate a room with very few distractions and call that the "homework zone".  Don't put it off until later.

"When the child comes home from school, when you have your teenager come home from school, they need about five to ten minutes to relax and de-stress from school.  It's a good time for a healthy snack, but then get into homework.  You want to get it in when it's fresh in their minds and before they get distracted with anything else."

You can also use a timer.  Build in five minute breaks so students don't get too frustrated and overwhelmed.

If kids do need help, instead of relying on mom or dad or brothers and sisters, encourage them to solve their own problems.  There are so many resources online, including the website www.kids.gov, which tackles many subjects for students of all ages.

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