School is back in session, and one of the issues I hear about the most? The need for homework help! I'm sharing how to set up a homework routine that works, so that homework time isn't a total nightmare.
Thank you to Gift Card Mall for sponsoring this post.In fourteen years as a teacher and intervention specialist, there are certain questions and issues I discuss with parents constantly. One of those? Homework help. They complain that their children are unwilling to do their homework. They say it's a constant battle to get the homework DONE.
I wanted to share the same advice I've given with y'all. I believe that homework doesn't have to be a struggle or a battle. It can be a positive experience, that leaves your child feeling happy and proud (and leaves you smiling instead of tearing your hair out).
Create a Designated Space: Would you be able to focus in the middle of the dining room surrounded by activity? Nope. Your student won't be able to either. Work with your student BEFORE the first night of homework to set up a space designated for homework. It should be quiet, clean and free of clutter, and should have all supplies needed to complete grade level appropriate work (crayons for primary grades, correctly sized pencils, scissors, glue stick, scratch paper). If you DON'T have a space in your home for this, create a homework on the go bag with all supplies. Plan to go to the library each day or even a local coffee shop. Those locations can be your designated space, but you will want to use the SAME location everyday.
Create an After-School Routine: When I first started teaching, a veteran teacher told me that in a well run classroom…..the students could go through the schedule for the day WITHOUT the teacher. They would know daily routines so well, that they could always anticipate what would happen next. It should be the same for your afternoons and evenings. My suggestion for the ideal after school routine? After pick up from school, have a snack and short play break first…..your child has been in school ALL day. They'll need a break. I would suggest a thirty minute play period, then homework BEFORE dinner. Homework too late in the evening will cause frustration, kids are too tired. Give your student a chance to refuel and relax, then remind them they will have MORE time to play after they complete their homework.
Know In Advance Where to Go for Support: One of the main things I hear from students when they are fighting homework time? They don't know HOW to do the work. Please be understanding. Students learn at difference paces. They may struggle with certain assignments and not others. Plan for this in advance. Can your child ask you for help? Can they call a friend? A family member? For older students, I suggest that they circle problems they need help with and complete the rest. At the end of their homework time, they troubleshoot using whatever plan their family has in place. For younger students (until at least grade three), they should be able to receive immediate help when struggling with homework.
Positive Reinforcement: The goal of homework should be to PRACTICE, not to perform perfectly. When you are working towards homework being a positive experience, you want to celebrate positive behavior not perfect answers. Create a reward system for positive choices. Did your child get to work with no battle? Did they complete their homework to the best of their ability? That's the goal.
Create a positive reinforcement chart (for younger kids it should be weekly). Each day they follow your routine, allow them to put a star or a tally mark on a small chart. Let them work towards earning something they're excited about. Keep that item in plain sight, and remind them that you will HELP them earn that prize.
One of my favorite suggestions for prizes? A Toys R Us gift card available from Gift Card Mall. These can be picked up at your local grocery store or online at www.giftcardmall.com (I love that I don't have to go TO Toys R Us to buy it). For younger students, they love seeing that familiar logo. And knowing that once they fill their behavior chart that they can take a trip to their favorite store to select a prize? HUGE motivator! For older students, Gift Card Mall also has a VISA gift card and the Fuel Everywhere VISA gift card. I know some kids who would love the XBOX gift card! These are great if they'd like to earn a larger prizer over a longer period of time!