By Vicki Little
Homework can be as frustrating for parents as it is for kids. Maybe even worse for parents, since they’re at a disadvantage not knowing how lessons are taught in classrooms. Plus, many of us haven’t studied a particular subject in years. Trying to do everything at the last minute is a recipe for meltdowns and bickering. Help your child (and yourself) successfully complete homework with a simple checklist.
- Figure out what time works best for your child. Many families have a hard-and-fast rule that homework must be done as soon as the kids get home from school. But that isn’t always best for everyone. For instance, if one child gets out of school later or there are after-school activities, this may not work as well. Some kids have an easier time doing homework in the morning. If there’s an extra half hour after breakfast when they can focus on their work, that may work better for some kids because their minds are rested. Maybe it’s ideal to save the 20 minutes of reading until evening. Tuck the kiddos into bed a half an hour early and let them read until lights out. It is important to get work done correctly, but some kids focus better after a break or snack. Letting them play outside or relax with music for 20 minutes may make homework a less stressful task, too.
- Keep all your supplies in one place. Ten minutes of homework can quickly turn into 30 minutes if your student is constantly getting up to find a sharpened pencil, glue, or their books. Have a container filled with pencils, a sharpener, crayons, glue, colored pencils, a ruler, and other items that will be needed. Have your child bring all their books and notebooks to their study area so everything is in one place.
- Set up a homework zone. Some kids need to have a clean desk with no background noise. Some kids focus better laying on the floor with soft ambient music in the background. And some kids like to sit at the kitchen table while their mom or dad makes dinner. The key is finding what environment is best for each child.
- Write down all assignments. From the biggest to the smallest, make sure your kids write down ALL assignments. This way nothing gets forgotten, and it will be easier to separate what will take a long time vs. just a little bit. For long-term or extremely detailed assignments, break them into a list of to-do’s that you can tackle each night to make it more manageable.
- Prioritize. Studying for a test that takes place the next day should be first, while their mind is fresh. Next, they should complete the assignments due the next day, and finally they should start checking off the to-do’s for their long-term projects. A brief refresher for the test after everything is completed — or even first thing in the morning — should come last.
- Review completed homework. Kids should get into the habit of only turning in complete, correct homework. Many kids figure that since homework isn’t always graded, they don’t have to do their best work. Go over homework with them to make sure that everything is correct, that sentences are complete, handwriting is nice, and the assignment is done. If there is something wrong, go over it with them to make sure they understand where they made the mistake and how to do it correctly. Have them “grade” their own paper before they turn it in. After a while, they will be able to see where their efforts meet or fall short of expectations. Getting into this habit will ensure they understand the foundation of lessons before they move ahead to the harder material. Most importantly, it will instill a work ethic of only doing their best.
Do you have a system for helping with homework?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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