One of the best ways to encourage your child to complete his assignments is to create a homework space that's all her own.
First, consider your child's study style. If she is easily distracted, a secluded, quiet spot is best, but if she's more comfortable working with other people around, choose a corner of the living room or kitchen. Make sure the area is free of clutter and that other family members respect "homework time."
While music may be okay at low levels, TVs should be turned off — very few people can resist becoming distracted by TV. But no matter where your child does her homework, the U.S. Department of Education recommends that the space has bright lighting, relative quiet, and close-at-hand supplies.
Two other essentials are a reasonably large work surface and comfortable seating. If you can afford to buy an adjustable chair, that's great, but you can also adjust your existing furniture by stacking pillows or even telephone books on the seat. If your child's feet don't rest on the floor, use a footrest, boxes, or more stacked telephone books. A final tip is to use a rolled-up towel or small pillow between the back of the chair and the child's lower back to provide lumbar support.
Finally, let your child take part in creating his study space so he'll feel more comfortable and be less likely to think of homework as a chore. Your child might feel less intimidated if he has a favorite stuffed animal sitting beside him to "help" study spelling words, or if she has a "magic thinking hat" to wear when stumped by a math problem.
A few additional ergonomic guidelines should be followed when your child works at a computer. The monitor should be level with his head, and it should be directly in front of him, about 18 to 30 inches away. Make sure there's no glare falling on the screen or use an anti-glare screen, as glare causes eyestrain. If your child is very young, consider getting a kid-sized keyboard and mouse or switching to a trackball, as little hands often have trouble using these adult-sized components.
Once you've got the space and furniture covered, stock up on basic supplies. For younger children, also include arts and crafts materials. For older children, include a dictionary, thesaurus, and an atlas. Use colorful jars to hold supplies, or for a portable option, use plastic stackable cubes or even a sturdy shoebox.
For kids working at a common area such as the kitchen table, bringing out the "homework supplies" is also a great way to indicate that study time has begun. The other essential item for all ages is a wall calendar where your child can record assignment due dates and other important information.
By setting up your child with a workspace that works for him or her, the homework process will be a smoother one for everyone.