By Megan Sobecki, Intervention Specialist
While the beginning of the school year can bring about familiar routines, it can also bring with it the frustration of homework time. Whether your student struggles with a certain subject, organization, or time management, we hope these strategies and systems will provide your family with beneficial ideas to make this part of your day a more positive experience.
Does your child routinely forget his/her homework, planner, or lunchbox? Try creating a “launching pad” in your home. Choose a spot near the door, in a cubby, or somewhere your child can easily access. Define the area with a bin, box, or other marking. This is the spot where your child will keep his/her backpack and other materials that need to go back and forth to school everyday. Make it an evening routine to check the launching pad. Ensure planners and homework are zipped inside the backpack, and that lunch boxes and other items are in the launching pad as well. Making this a habit can help mornings run more smoothly and help your child to be independently responsible for his/her belongings.
-Clean Sweep: Keep Archive Toss (KAT)
Papers and books can easily build up in a backpack. Set a consistent time each week to do a “clean sweep” of your child’s backpack. In just five minutes, take out old papers and items. Sort them into three categories: Keep, Archive, Toss (KAT). Items chosen for the keep pile should be organized and kept neatly in the backpack. Archived items should be kept in a predetermined bin or file. Archived items might be work your child is proud of or notes/quizzes/study guides that could be helpful later in the year.
– Must Do, Should Do, Could Do
Help your child learn to prioritize his/her responsibilities by categorizing the tasks as “must do, should do, or could do.” “Must Do” items are those with an immediate deadline or need to be addressed that evening. “Should do” tasks include those that may not be due the next day but would be beneficial to spend a little time on. “Could do” items do not need to be done for several days.
Work Time and Space
Although daily schedules can change depending on extracurriculars and family time, try to create a consistent routine as to where and when homework is completed. If your child needs a break when he/she gets home from school, set a 30 minute timer for him/her to play, eat a snack, and relax. When the 30 minutes is up, homework begins. Right before dinner or right after dinner are other effective times. Try to avoid crunching homework into bedtime. If your mornings are generally easy-going, this may be another time your child could finish up work.
Allow your child to try a few different spaces around your home to discover where he/she works best.
– Using a timer also helps children use their time more efficiently. You may need to help them set realistic expectations for the amount of time an assignment will take. Breaking tasks down into smaller chunks of time with a change of activity in between can also help them stay focused and motivated during the work time.
Constructive Help and Communication
– Don’t tell them how to do it! If your child is stuck or struggling, ask him/her to show you notes or examples. Respond to his/her questions with questions to get him/her thinking: “How do you think you could start?” “What part do you feel confident about?” “Can you teach me what you know about it?”
– Ask POWERFUL questions.
Rather than asking “Do you have homework?” try asking “What are your priorities today?” When you know your child has a test, ask “What’s one thing you might do to study for your ___ test?”
If your child had a challenging task or assessment, ask “Next time, what’s one thing you might do differently to prepare?”
– Encourage your children to seek help on their own by writing the teacher an email or writing a note on the assignment to remind them to ask about it at school.
Homework is intended to reinforce what your child is learning in school. If your student reaches a frustration point, take a break, let the teacher know it was challenging, and positively support your child when he/she is ready to try again.
Remember, your children have already spent the majority of the day sitting and working! Time to move, play, socialize, and being with family play an important role in their success as well.
“7 No-Fail Strategies for Getting Homework Done on Time and Without Drama”
Ann Dolin, M.Ed.