Tips for Helping Teens in Foster Care with Homework

Teens in foster care benefit from tutoring as well as structured homework time.

Teens in foster care benefit from tutoring as well as structured and consistent homework time.

It is common for youth in foster care to be behind their peers academically. Although younger children may be more willing to spend time on homework, teens in foster care may rebel against foster parents or guardians who try to get them focused on academic goals. In-home tutoring can provide the motivation teens need to do well in school. Tutors with experience working with kids who are several grades behind where they should be can boost a child’s confidence and get them thinking about their future.

However, a tutor cannot be with your foster child all the time. There are steps you can take to provide an environment conducive to learning. Here’s how foster parents and guardians can help teens with homework without turning these after-school study sessions into a dreaded war of wills:

Be Organized

Homework hour is all about making sure your teen has sufficient time to complete assigns while he still has energy. Make sure your chores are completed beforehand so she has your undivided attention if she needs it. Turn off the television and eliminate other distractions that can interrupt a teen’s concentration. Actions counter to these recommendations send a message to your child that homework isn’t a priority.

Be Consistent

Establishing a reliable routine is just as important as helping your teen with homework. Set a designated time and place for schoolwork. Have everything your child needs at hand, including reference books, a computer, dictionary, and writing paper. Your child has a limited attention span, so don’t waste it by having him hunt around for an eraser.

Take a Break

After school, give your teen some downtime before hitting the books again at home. Have a healthy snack while chatting about her day at school. Discover what she learned in class and if she faced problems during a particular lesson. Reassure her that homework reinforces learning. This is your opening to start the day’s assignments.

Learn the Lesson

Nothing frustrates a teen more than a difficult homework assignment and nothing annoys you more that not being able to help her. Take time to study the material before trying to teach your child how to find the correct answers. If you don’t understand the lesson, find someone who does. An in-home or online tutor can provide assistance when you need it.

Think Outside the Box

Learning should be fun. Change settings by doing homework at the library instead of at home. Experiment with various methods of imparting the same knowledge to your child and see which ones work best to help her understand her homework.

Limit Homework Time

Your teen has spent almost an entire day in school, learning many subjects in a closed classroom environment. At home, keep homework time between 15 to 20 minute increments. Forcing your tired child to spend longer than 20 minutes on homework may produce resentment against extra assignments and discourage learning in general.

Offer Constructive Feedback

If your child has a tough time with a particular task, be patient and suggest different approaches to the problem instead of berating his inability to find a solution. Remember that homework is practice for what your child has already learned in class. Go through the lesson with her briefly before taking another shot at the answer.

Monitor Progress

Keep tabs on your teen’s progress in school. His struggle with homework may point towards learning difficulties during class. Discuss the issue with his teachers or attend parent-teacher meetings to find out more about the teaching methods employed in school and ways you can help at home.

Tutoring can help teens in foster care catch up with their peers and prepare them for graduation. Contact us today if your teen needs tutoring!