Another school year is upon us, and that means the dreaded “H” word for many families: homework. Does your child find it difficult to complete homework assignments? Is it a daily battle between you and your child to even start on homework?

If so, know that you are not alone. However, homework doesn’t have to be a daily struggle between parent and child, and between child and learning. There are several things you can do to set up healthy study habits that can help your child succeed throughout the school year.

  1. Get up and go for a walk. If you sense your child struggling while doing homework, encourage him to take a short 10-20 minute break and take a walk outside, stretch, and let the brain roam. Then your child can circle back to the homework with a fresh new outlook, ready to complete the assignment.
  2. Take a snack break. Much like a short exercise break, healthy food is needed for the brain to be able to absorb and retain knowledge. Give your child access to healthy snacks such as blueberries or a glass of milk – nutritious food & beverages that will help recharge the brain.
  3. Listen to Baroque music in the background while doing homework. Music allows your child’s body to become relaxed and gives his mind a chance to open to its fullest potential. This, in turn, brings forth the possibility for memory and learning to function in a heightened state. Because Baroque music moves at 60 beats per minute, in the Largo movement, it is syncopated to your heartbeat and can help lower blood pressure, improve circulation and pump more blood to prefrontal cortex, which allows us to process our thoughts better. Jannalea Hoffman, a music therapist from the University of Kansas, found that music can help students do better on tests.  She created a Baroque piece of music that followed slow sound patterns and played it as background music for a group of nursing students taking a test; the control group did not hear the music. Hoffman found that those listening to the music had lower heart rates and higher test scores than the control group.
  4. Get a good night’s sleep. Our brains need sleep to recharge, and studies show that sleep triggers changes in the brain that help improve memory. Then, if you get a good night’s sleep, memory tasks can be performed more quickly and with less stress and anxiety. Sleep lowers stress and helps you think less emotionally and more critically.
  5. Establish a routine. Younger children, especially, benefit from routines. Have a set time each day when your child regularly does homework. This can help set expectations and present less resistance from your child. Try to clear a specific designated, well-lit space in your house for homework, so that your child knows where to keep books, papers, pencils, and other study tools. By setting aside space just for studying, you are giving the signal to your child that this is an important role in his life.  When you structure a positive environment in which to learn, it’s like a trigger of expectation that cues your child that it’s time to study.

Set up these helpful study habits early on, so that your child develops a healthy relationship with homework and studying for school. Remember: younger children may especially look to you as their role model, and the more you approach studying with a positive, encouraging stance, the more likely they are to embrace healthy study habits that will last a lifetime.

Author(s)

  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.