January can be a hard month to love. It’s all anti-climax and anti-freeze. Crumpled gift wrap and credit card bills. Slippery sidewalks and the long slog to spring.
But… (you knew there’d be a but, right?)
There is another side to January. The month was named, after all, for the two-faced Roman god Janus, who looks to both the past and future. And there’s something invigorating about looking ahead. A new calendar, with its mercifully empty squares, presents a clean slate, a fresh start. A bracing invitation to start anew, with new resolve.
The start of a new year (new month, new semester, etc.) presents the perfect opportunity to adopt some good habits – or maybe just reinforce old ones you and your family might have abandoned during the mad dash to year’s end. And that includes study routines.
Now that the kids are back in school, help them get back to basics with their homework habits.
- Stay on schedule. Set a regular study period, with a start and end time. Routines develop into good habits. Use an egg timer or your smartphone to signal when the period ends. (Pick a time based on your child’s rhythms: Some students prefer to tackle homework as soon as they get off the bus, while others might need to expel pent-up energy by playing before buckling down.)
- Location, location, location. Provide a regular spot to study, free from distractions such as the TV set or other children playing. It doesn’t have to be a desk – just somewhere quiet and well-lit where students can focus on their work.
- Don’t hover, but linger. If you child wants company, there’s nothing wrong with sitting nearby – maybe reading your own book – while she studies. But don’t do her homework for her. It’s OK to answer questions and help her get focused. But if your child regularly needs your active participation to get her own work done, consider talking to the teacher.
- Limit screen time. Turn off the computer when your child does homework, unless it’s for research. And even then, negotiate how much time he can spend online.
- Allow for breaks. Taking a short break can sometime help a student’s concentration. Sitting still for too long can invite daydreams in. Encourage kids to take a 10-minute walk or do some jumping jacks before hitting the books again.
- Lead by example. Want to raise a reader? Set a good example by reading yourself and taking your child to the library to pick out her own books to read.
Happy New Year!
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Laura Ryan has been a communications specialist with the Capital Region BOCES Communications Service since January 2012. Before that, she spent the better part of the 1990s and 2000s chronicling the municipal, criminal, trivial, inspirational, magical, comical and awful for several newspapers in Florida and New York. When she’s not communicating the facts, she likes to read (and sometimes even pretend to write) fiction.