Do homework battles cause big headaches in your household? Read on for ways to nurture healthy study habits and pave a path of less resistance.

The Purpose of Homework

Homework helps kids learn time management skills, the ability to work independently and personal accountability. It also helps reinforce concepts that your child is learning in school.

Connect With the Teacher

Ask the teacher about her preferred mode of communication, whether email, text or phone. "Communication with your child's teacher is critical. Keep the lines of communication open so you will be fully aware of any concerns regarding your child's progress," says Carol Thompson, an elementary instructional coach for the Independence School District (MO).

How Much Is Normal?

The general rule of thumb for homework is about 10 to 15 minutes per grade level. If your child chronically comes home with an inordinate amount of work each night, ask the teacher if your child is managing his time poorly at school or if there's a way to adjust the load.

Homework Frustrations

Usually, homework is meant to be an independent endeavor. When your child clearly doesn't grasp a concept, write a note on top of the worksheet advising the teacher that your child struggled, requiring lots of help from you.

Exercise Fuels Brain Power

Some kids need an hour after school to have a snack and blow off steam. Set a timer to help avoid arguments at the end of the hour. Exercise, like shooting hoops, going for bike ride or a walk can help your child think when it's time to sit down and concentrate. Other kids may need time alone, whether to quietly color in their room, watch TV, or play with a favorite toy.

Designate a Homework Station

Decide with your child on a place to do homework. Consider how much oversight your child will need from you. Make sure the spot is in an area with few distractions and well-stocked with sharpened pencils, erasers, crayons, glue, a ruler, and any other supplies she might need. If the homework station is at the dining room table or an area with other uses, create a portable homework caddy to store supplies so your child's not wasting time chasing down an eraser or sharpened pencil.

Build a Routine

Stick to a regular time for homework that works well for your family's schedule and is early enough in the evening that your child isn't overly tired. Avoid working on homework while on the fly between sports practices or other activities.

Manage Resistance

Offer choices to avoid power struggles. Ask your child if she wants to do math before dinner and spelling after dinner. Would she prefer to practice spelling words on a dry erase board or with chalk on the driveway? Math facts with flash cards or a computer game?

Break It Down

"It's overwhelming for a child to see a blank page. This can trigger a fight or flight response," says Carie Beth Russell, a former educator and mom of two daughters. "Divide the paper in half by either drawing a horizontal or vertical line on the paper or physically folding it in half." After your child completes each part, check it together. Take a break every 15 minutes for your child to stretch and do a few jumping jacks.

Incentives Help

Remind your child that when his work is done, he's free to play, watch a favorite TV show, or see friends.