Ann Dolin: As kids prepare to go back to school it's important to know that much of their success is dependent on what happens after the school bell rings.
Having a routine for homework, especially a start time, is key. Elementary students often need down time after school. About 30 minutes is usually sufficient. After this break is when homework should begin. And although each day might be different try not to change the routine.
For older students consider having the family policy that homework starts before dinner. This step in itself will greatly reduce the late night stress when homework is still not finished.
And throw away the old idea that homework needs to be done in the same place each day. In fact, new research finds that it's far more productive to vary the location. Some kids function better when they can lie on the floor; sit on the sofa or even pace the room while studying for a test.
If you find that your child tends to fidget a lot, it's likely that he is craving sensory input. Holding a stress ball or a fidget toy will actually help him to stay focused.
Depending on the age and needs of your child, your involvement with homework will vary. In the primary grades you will need to actively be involved, but by third grade involvement can begin to taper off. At this point get your child started with his homework and then walk away.
By middle schools, students should be able to do homework independently. However, if you find that your child tends to fade without your support, continue to monitor him until he is able to do it on his own.