Part 3 of our Back to School Need to Know Series
by Melissa Resek
Ah, homework. The one thing about school that everyone just loves to hate! Let’s just face it – it’s here to stay. So, what can we do to make it just a bit more manageable? Here are a few tips to help you out…
– Routine – Make each and every day flow better with a homework routine. Following a schedule for after school makes evenings predictable for young and old alike. Decide on a schedule that works for your family, and stick with it. Here’s just one example…
– – – 4:00 – Get home and have a healthy snack.
– – – 4:15 – 5:00 – Play! Spend time OUTSIDE, running, jumping, laughing, and getting filled up on Vitamin D.
– – – 5:00 – Homework Time!
– Endurance – Homework shouldn’t be an endurance sport! The general rule of thumb is that homework should take about 10 minutes for every year of schooling. (So, your 3rd grader should spend about 30 minutes on homework.) “But, it takes so much longer!”, you say. It’s time to evaluate the process.
– – – Do you have a consistent homework routine? If not, it’s time to get one started. You provide your child with a predictable after school schedule, and make the expectation for focused work time.
– – – Do you have a consistent homework space? If not, it’s time to choose one. A desk, the kitchen table, or the middle of the living room floor are all fine places for homework to happen. Make sure the tv and other devices stay in a full off mode to make sure the focus is on getting homework done correctly.
– – – How much time can your child focus in one stretch? If that 3rd grader can’t possibly sit still for 30 minutes, figure out how long she can stay focused, and chunk homework time into those more manageable bits. Three 10 minute bursts of homework completion are sometimes easier to manage than a stretch of 30 minutes.
– – – Teach the importance of prioritizing. If you know that the math homework is going to take the longest, save that one for the end of the homework session. Being able to cross tasks off of a list is motivating – there’s success and satisfaction in getting things done! You can use this to motivate your child to keep plugging on through that lengthier piece of work.
– – – Fill your child’s bucket! Make sure you praise your child for a job well done. Building your child up as he works makes it easier for him to believe in himself. Try phrases like, “Way to go! It makes me feel proud when you settle into your homework routine!” or “I know this is hard for you. I think you’re very brave for trying your best even when you’re so frustrated.”
– – – What if it keeps taking a REALLY LONG time for your child to get homework done? Reach out to the teacher. There might be something you can do together to make things less of a struggle when homework time rolls around.
Homework does have merit, even though it might be hard to see in the present. Your children learn the importance of routines and get opportunities for perfect practice of important skills. Help your child’s teacher reinforce what’s happening in the classroom by supporting a solid homework routine.