Know Your Child’s Homework Profile

By Leslie Josel

I hate homework—but not for the reasons you may think. I’m all for homework that reinforces lessons taught in school, challenges students to think critically, and speaks to a child’s creativity and individual learning style.

But most homework assignments fall short of those goals, which is why I hate homework.

The Problem with Homework

In general, the emphasis of homework is on content rather than process. Because of that, the opportunity to learn lifelong skills is forfeited. Ask any student if they give any thought to how they tackle their homework, and most will tell you that they just sit down and do it.

Juggling homework with everything else they have to do is not easy. Knowing what their best methods are to get homework done is even harder.

Unfortunately, parents aren’t much help. They tend to have strong opinions about how their teen should do homework—perhaps right after school, or in the same place every day. But a lot of new research shows that the old way of doing homework may not be the best way. Today we know that children learn differently and therefore study most effectively in different situations.

Creating A Personal Homework Profile

Everyone has individual homework preferences and personalities—what I call a Personal Homework Profile. A Personal Homework Profile takes the whole student into account.

Helping your child understand her profile will allow her to work more efficiently and effectively.

This does not need to be a formal process. Think of it as a guide to uncovering your child’s best practices. Here are a few questions to get you and your child started.

  • What time is best for your child to start homework?
  • When is she at her peak energy level after school?
  • Does he prefer working in a noisy or quiet environment?
  • What kind of snacks does she like to eat while doing homework?
  • Can he work fast and furiously, or does he need constant breaks to accomplish his best work?
  • Does she need music to keep her on task or does background noise work better?
  • Does he prefer to work alone or in the presence of someone else?
  • Which subject is the easiest for her? Which takes the longest? Which subject does she like to start with?
  • Does he need to move around to different spots in the house to keep his effort level up?

If you help your child create a profile that taps into her strengths and needs, you can provide her with strategies and resources that will help with time management skills and benefit her long after her homework days are behind her.

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management and the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management. To learn more, visit