All teachers experience the morning ritual of students filing through the halls, sometimes tumbling over each other, to get to their classrooms.

It doesn't take long for teachers to learn two things: watch your toes, and take time to read their shirts. The other day I took time to read a boy's shirt: 'Lost Homework: if found, please complete and turn in.'

Homework is a part of school that can harvest beneficial rewards for our children. Research has shown that homework has a direct impact on achievement.

Six thousand students were studied over a five-year period. The research showed that students who did an extra 30 minutes of math homework beginning in 7th grade would, by 11th grade, see their achievement level soar by the equivalent of two grades.

Generally speaking, homework can have a significant effect on the achievement level of adolescents. Does this mean grade-school children don't need homework? No.

Young kids benefit from homework because they develop organizational skills, learn time management, and develop the ability to learn independently.

So what can parents do to help their children reap the most from homework? Research shows that higher achievement was generally associated with less parental involvement in the homework process.

Be a resource for your child but realize the great feeling of confidence your child will have after completing a task - even if it was a bit of a struggle. Here are some more helpful ideas:

1. Praise your child for homework completion.

2. Help your child set academic goals at the beginning of every grading period.

3. Decide, as a family, the reward for your child after completing every homework assignment for a given time. Post the possible rewards on the refrigerator.

4. Allow your child to choose when homework will be completed.

5. Set the standard that completion of homework takes precedence over talking on the phone or watching a favorite television show. Stick to the standard when your child 'forgets.' Remove the distraction if it persists.

6. Teach your children the wisdom of taking a break from a frustrating assignment. Allow them to take a five-minute break after completing five math problems, for example. Your student will benefit from taking a 10-minute break for every 50 minutes of studying.

7. Parents and children should establish a study routine: when and where will your child study? Parents must expect the children to stick to the routine. Consider family obligations, practice schedules and scheduled activities. Also consider the child's ability to concentrate at different times of the day.

8. Monitor your child's school attendance. Every day absent equals three missed days. Day 1 - student is not in class to receive instruction. Day 2 - student returns but doesn't understand what is being taught because it is based on previous day's instruction. Day 3 - Student is not prepared to complete homework for the following day.

For children to learn good study skills and boost achievement, parents and teachers must work together. With good planning and a lot of consistency, your child can gain the greatest rewards from homework.

Linda Henderson is a counselor at Tom McCall Upper Elementary School. You can e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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