During early and middle childhood, children need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and supervise them after school until you return home from work.
If a family member will care for your child, communicate the need to follow consistent rules set by the parent regarding schedules, discipline and homework.
Children approaching adolescence (11- and 12-year-olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age.
If alternate adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone.
If you choose an after-school program for your child, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, trained persons to address health issues and emergencies, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.
Develop a Sleep Routine
Getting enough sleep is critical for a child to be successful in school. Children who do not get enough sleep have difficulty concentrating and learning as well as they can.
Set a consistent bedtime for your child and stick with it every night. Having a bedtime routine that is consistent will help your child settle down and fall asleep. Components of a calming pre-bedtime routine may involve a bath/shower, reading with them, and tucking them in and saying good-night to them.
Have your child turn off electronic devices well before bedtime.
Try to have the home as quiet and calm as possible when younger children are trying to fall asleep.
Insufficient sleep is associated with lower academic achievement in middle school, high school and college, as well as higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness. The optimal amount of sleep for most younger children is 10-12 hours per night and for adolescents (13-18 year of age) is in the range of 8-10 hours per night. See Healthy Sleep Habits: How Many Hours Does Your Child Need? for more information.
Developing Good Homework & Study Habits
Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework starting at a young age. Children need a consistent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
Schedule ample time for homework; build this time into choices about participation in after school activities.
Establish a household rule that the TV and other electronic distractions stay off during homework time.
Supervise computer and Internet use.
By high school, it’s not uncommon for teachers to ask students to submit homework electronically and perform other tasks on a computer. If your child doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet at home, work with teachers and school administration to develop appropriate accommodations.Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
If your child is struggling with a particular subject, speak with your child’s teacher for recommendations on how you or another person can help your child at home or at school. If you have concerns about the assignments your child is receiving, talk with their teacher.
If your child is having difficulty focusing on or completing homework, discuss this with your child’s teacher, school counselor, or health care provider.
For general homework problems that cannot be worked out with the teacher, a tutor may be considered.
Some children need extra help organizing their homework. Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help overcome homework problems.
Some children may need help remembering their assignments. Work with your child and their teacher to develop an appropriate way to keep track of their assignments – such as an assignment notebook.