Mathematics is the sport of the mind, and just as with any other sport, you don't get proficient at it by playing in major tournaments; you get proficient by daily practice.  The key to success in this sport is the same as all other sports - EFFORT.
The only place achievement comes before effort is in the dictionary!

     There are over 100 major mathematical concepts in algebra and geometry that your child needs to master to be able to move on to higher levels of mathematics properly equipped for success.  Forty-three minutes per day for fewer than half the days in a year is enough time for me to present the ideas, but it is not enough time for your child to master the concepts.  There is only one alternative - homework.  In my experience I have found that homework is one of the most powerful learning tools that is available.  Not "drill and kill', but drill for skill.  Practice results in proficiency.
The fiddler who practices most plays best!

     Parents need to strike a balance in the management of their children's homework.  This means offering support and assistance but not taking over.  This enables children to learn and think on their own and to learn from mistakes.  It is important that parents monitor whether homework is done, and how well it is done, but guard against doing the homework for their children.
              You can’t learn to pull the wagon by riding on it.

     "A study by University of Illinois scholars ... discovered that the simple act of doing homework tests out as being more important to a child's success in school than race, class, or the parents' educational background."
The Globe and Mail, Fifth Column, November 3, 1995.


It helps children internalize by practicing skills previously taught.
It helps children learn, remember, and understand information.
It helps children understand the relationship between effort and results.
It helps children develop time management and organizational skills.
It helps children develop a positive attitude towards life-long learning.
It helps children take responsibility, show initiative, and be creative.
It enables parents to see their children's progress.
It keeps parents tuned in to what their children are learning in school.
It strengthens the ties between home and school.


     Be consistent yet flexible.  Agree on a study schedule and a homework plan at the beginning of each school year, allowing for the fact that some nights more time will be needed than others.  Each child needs a homework routine that fits his individual age, health, temperament, and study skills and weaknesses.
     Discourage personal phone calls and digital distractions during scheduled homework time.
     Establish a quiet, well lit study area with the proper tools for schoolwork.  This can be anything from a desk in a bedroom to the kitchen table.
     Ensure that children are not tired, hungry, or short of time.
     Help children understand what they're to do and why.
     Help children get ready to do their homework - for instance, by guiding them to first read the introduction to the chapter they have been assigned, or to look over the last work they did on the subject, or to review notes they took.
     Provide required knowledge and information for homework/study projects, for example by organizing a trip to the library.
     Teach children to work independently and help them learn to manage their time.

     As your children are reading their chapter, they should pause after each section and 'test” their understanding.  It helps to take notes of the main points as they read.  The act of taking notes and reviewing them will help children understand and remember.
     Involve yourself as the "audience" for ready practice of spelling, mathematics problems, reading, etc.
     Be sure children understand that homework is their responsibility.  Make yourself available but be clear about your role is as supporter and monitor. (You don't have to know how to do the work yourself to be a good supporter.)
     Good notes are important.  Encourage students to organize them immediately after class while the ideas are fresh, and to review them that same evening.  Students in my classes maintain spiral notebooks that contain notes from class as well as homework.
     Your children should review material more than once, well in advance, instead of ‘cramming' the night before a test.
     Show interest in what your child is doing.  Talk about successes and difficulties. Encourage your child to do well in school.  If you believe that the hours of studying are worth the effort, then so will your child.  Give praise when praise is due!
     Turn your child into the teacher. You play the part of the student.  As he teaches you, he'll be absorbing important information.
     Provide children with homework tools such as dictionaries, rulers, calculators, and so on.
     Expand interest in a subject by using supplementary material.
     If your child has difficulty with one subject, have his begin a homework session by completing that assignment first while he's fresh. Save his favorite subjects for last.
     Do your own "homework" while your kids are studying, if possible.  Pay bills, write letters, balance your checkbook, or read.  When kids see that study time applies to everyone, they'll be more likely to take it seriously.  The number one homework distracter is television.

     I promise that I will never assign busy work.  All homework is valuable, and all homework counts.
        Tell me how and I may or may not know how.  Show me how and I will know
                how for a day.  Give me homework for practice, understanding, review, and
                extension and I will know how for life.     Hansen

          If the brain were a muscle then class work would be the weight training, homework
     would be the roadwork, and tests would be the competitions.  Mathematics is the sport
     of the mind.  Build yourself up and get in the game; no one can keep you out of the
     game but you.  Hansen

       Doing homework is like making regular deposits in the intellectual bank.  This bank
     pays great interest, and just like money oriented banks, no deposit - no return.

       A message from the homework evangelist:

                 Everyone knows how important it is to be fiscally responsible with finances. Failure to live at/below your level of earning always brings disaster, albeit delayed.  Deficit spending only postpones the inevitable.  On a national or local scale deficit spending simply transfers the financial responsibility of the current administration/generation to future administrations/generations.  The old adage of  “pay me now or pay me more, later” is something that Americans have had some experience with.  And, many states, counties, cities, and families have, or are currently, experiencing the effects of deficit spending.  However, this message is not an indictment against financial irresponsibility; it is an indictment against intellectual irresponsibility.

       As a math teacher for more that twenty-five years I can state with confidence that this same situation holds true when the topic is homework.  Administrators, or teachers (especially of mathematics) who fold under the pressure to avoid assigning homework are mortgaging the intellectual future of their students in the same way that deficit spenders are mortgaging the financial future of their constituents/families.  Parents who discourage their children from completing homework assignments, or who offer their children diversions that are more immediately pleasing are guilty of a form of child abuse more devastating than divorce or poverty (think Pinoccio).

      Everyone wants to retire form the world of work to enjoy golden years on some beach, somewhere, but that outcome happens only for those who are financially responsible during their work years.  Every student wants to get into a great college, get a great job, have a great family, etc.  That happens only for those who are intellectually responsible.  For either of these groups, if you are mortgaging your future you will eventually have to pay up, or you will live a life in the golden years that will be more like the copper, or coal years for you.

       Doing homework is like making regular deposits in the intellectual bank.  This bank pays great interest, and just like money oriented banks, no deposit - no return.

Homework Helper - Help Your Child Take Control

Your child may not realize it when it's 10 p.m. and he's memorizing the periodic table, but homework is a good thing. It helps your child:
   1. practice what he has learned during the day
   2. get a sense of progress
   3. establish study habits that will be critical in high school and college
   4. prepare for his classes

Homework Tips
Set the Mood
Help your child create a good study area with all the resources he needs (for example, a dictionary). If you don't have a quiet place at home, he should try the school or local library.  Homework Club and individual teacher's classrooms are great places to complete homework.

Know Where to Begin
Your child should make a prioritized list of everything he needs to do, so he can't use "I don't know where to start" as an excuse. It's important not to over-schedule. Without some flexibility, your child will set himself up to fail.

Study at the Same Time Every Day
Even if your child doesn't have homework, he can use the time to review notes. If homework is something your child accepts as part of his day, he'll approach it with less dread. Plus, he will become a pro at using time productively.

Keep Things in Perspective
Your child should know how much weight each assignment or test carries, and invest his time accordingly.

Get More Involved
Does your child ever feel like he can't stay awake to read something, let alone process it? To keep his mind from wandering, your child may want to take notes, underline sections, discuss topics with others, or relate his homework to what he is studying in another class.

Organize the Information
People process information in different ways. Some people like to draw pictures or charts to digest information, other people like to read out loud or make detailed outlines. Your child should try to find the best methods that work for him. He should ask his teacher for recommendations if he's experiencing any difficulty.

Take Advantage of Any Free Time
If your child has a study hall, or a long car ride, he can use the time to review notes, prepare for an upcoming class, or start homework.

Studying with a Friend
Unless it's too distracting, your child may want to get together with friends and classmates to quiz himself, compare notes, and predict test questions. To you, this may seem like mostly a social time, but it can be very beneficial to your child to prepare for an assignment as part of a group.

Celebrate Your Child's Achievements
Reward your child for hitting milestones, or doing something well. You can provide treats or small rewards for your child while he is working on a big assignment. Your appreciation of your child's accomplishments in school is still very important to him, even though he may not always show it.

Communication Is Key
Keeping the lines of communication open will help to broaden your understanding of what teachers and counselors expect of your child and may help you to think of new ways to be supportive while still giving your child the independence that he's craving. It will also help you to understand how much time your child needs to allot for his homework, time that might take away from his participation in family activities or helping out around the house.

If your child has concerns about the amount or type of homework he has, he may want to talk to his teacher, adviser, or counselor. Encourage your child to ask for help if he needs it.