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A Soundtrack for Homework

When her four kids were preteens, pediatrician Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, M.D., of Raleigh, NC, thought it wasn't a good idea for them to listen to music while they were doing homework (as much as they wanted to!).

But she's learned (through her work on the American Academy of Pediatrics's committee on media) that some kids actually benefit from a background beat. When they're working, many kids (and adults) respond positively to the tune of some background music they've chosen themselves.

"It seems to help maintain a certain level of alertness, much the way fidgeting sometimes does," Clarke-Pearson says.

So if your child wants to turn on some tunes during homework time, let her try it. But exercise some volume control. If you have to shout to talk above the music, it's loud enough to damage her hearing. And if you find her singing along with the lyrics, suggest some less-engaging selections.