Know the Assignment
There are many reasons a student may not know their homework assignment. Some students have trouble copying accurately from the board. Others can't keep good track of their papers and lose the sheet on which the homework was printed. Still others have handwriting issues and even if they write down the assignment, they can't read their own writing when they sit down to work. If your child consistently has any one of these issues, work with their teacher to make sure they have an alternative way of getting their assignments. Some students work with a homework buddy, others need to show their teacher that they have their worksheets packed in their bag before they leave class. Whatever the system, find one that works. Knowing what to do is the first step in getting the work done.
Homework Needs a Home Office
Think about the kind of space you need when you bring home a project from work. Homework is part of a student's job and he or she needs a dedicated space to work. It can be one end of the dining room table, a desk in their room, or anyplace else in the house. It needs to have a place nearby to store books and long term projects, as well as to be equipped with age-appropriate supplies -- markers and glue, a computer with internet access for research, and access to a printer.
A home office also needs to have an office-like atmosphere. That doesn't always mean silence -- we know that some students (and adults) prefer to work with music in the background. But it does mean that there is no television or computer on, except as needed for research and word processing. This may be impossible to enforce for older students who work in their rooms, but younger students can learn the importance of separating work from recreation if parents model this by their own behavior. Hopefully, good work habits learned early will continue on through high school.
Create a "Launching Pad" for Your Child
Knowing the assignment and doing the homework are only the first parts of the process; your child needs to bring it back to school. Creating a dedicated space for each child to hold all the items he or she needs for the next school day will make sure that homework wasn't done in vain. The launching pad is also a way to ensure that your student has all of his or her other required school items. It should be the place for permission slips, books, gym attire, and anything else that needs to go to school. Ideally, a basket or shelf big enough to hold their backpack can be dedicated to each child. As homework is completed, books are read, and permission slips signed, they can all be placed inside the backpack and the pack then goes back on the launching pad, to be taken to school, fully loaded, the next day.
No one loves doing homework, but planning and organization can make it easier for all.