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A lot of schools have decided that kids should spend a mandatory amount of time on homework each night. That can be a kicker, but not if you go about it the right way. We asked two experts in tackling homework to drop down some tips. Here goes:

If you can get a leg up while still in school, go for it: Ask any questions right then to save yourself frustration later, says Dr. Linda Sonna, author of books to help kids study better.

Figure out when, where and how you work best: "Are you a morning or night person? Do you work well on a full stomach?" asks Ron Fry, who also has written books on how kids can study better.

Hook up with classmates:

Have the numbers of kids you can call if you need help, Dr. Sonna says. Also, pair up with a "homework buddy," who can check to see if you have the stuff you need for assignments before going home.

Figure out exactly how much time you have for homework: "It's very easy . . . to have bitten off more than you can chew" when it comes to after-school activities like sports and clubs, Fry says. Try writing down how much time you spend on stuff in a week to see where your time is going.

Decide if doing homework in the morning is the way to go: Dr. Sonna says some kids find they work best when they don't have distractions like seeing friends playing outside or that cool prime-time TV show.

Leave the TV off (sorry!): Both experts say you can't concentrate with the tube blasting.

Start when you feel it's right: Some kids aren't into doing homework right when they get out of school, Dr. Sonna says. After sitting in class all day, some kids "need a chance to just let their mind drift and relax, and get some physical exercise."

Just be reasonable: Don't start cracking that math book at midnight. Take breaks: Both experts feel some kids can plow through homework, others can't. They suggest working in 10-to-20-minute bursts. And if you don't want to stop, at least change subjects every 20 minutes or so.

If you don't get your homework done on time: Here's a little tip from us. Try telling the teacher that you just got so busy trying to get organized that you lost track of time. Maybe you can scam some sympathy points!

-- Chicago Tribune

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