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The best time for elementary and teen students to do homework

Wednesday - 8/27/2014, 5:08am  ET

homework, parenting (AP)
Ann Dolin, a former Fairfax County teacher and founder of Educational Connections Tutoring, discusses the best times for kids to do homework and how parents can help. (AP)

WASHINGTON -- Kids in Maryland and D.C. are back in school this week; many students in Northern Virginia return next week. So it's a good time to get the homework habit right.

"There are really five times kids can do homework: right after school; after about a 30-minute break; before dinner; after dinner; or right before bed," says Ann Dolin, a former Fairfax County teacher and founder of Educational Connections Tutoring.

Some teachers pile on homework these days, especially for kids in 6th grade and higher. To get it all done, a little planning may be in order. Dolin says she believes the best homework time for elementary school students is a bit after school.

"Elementary students usually need some downtime after they return home from school or an extra-curricular activity," Dolin says. She recommends a homework start time for elementary students about 30 minutes after getting home.

It may be harder to set an exact homework start time for adolescents.

"For older students, consider having the family policy that homework starts before dinner. This step, in itself, will greatly reduce late-night stress," Dolin says.

Parents should help students with school projects. Dolin says the younger the child, the more involved the parents have to be. But, she says, it should be the student's project -- not the parents'.

"In general, a parent's pencil should never touch the paper," Dolin says.

Parents can lay the groundwork -- perhaps have the child write out the steps that the project requires -- and parents can prod the child to get the project done.

Get a list of all area school start dates on WTOP.com.

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