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.
In fifteen years as a teacher and intervention specialist, there were certain questions and issues I discussed with parents constantly. The one that probably came up the MOST? Homework help. They complain that their children are unwilling to do it. They say it's a constant battle to get the it DONE or even started. Anyone relate?!?
I wanted to share the same advice I've given with y'all. For the record, this is EXACTLY what we are implementing this year as Lydia starts kindergarten and has “real homework” for the first time. I believe that homework doesn't have to be a struggle or a battle. It can be a mostly positive experience, that leaves your child feeling happy and proud (and leaves you smiling instead of tearing your hair out).
Homework Help: Simple Tips for Setting Up a Routine that Works
Create a Designated Space: Would you be able to focus in the middle of the dining room surrounded by activity and hustle and bustle? Nope. Your student won't be able to either. Work with your student BEFORE the first night of school 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. We are planning to do homework at home, but do a special location once a week (the local library).
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 to an hour play period, then work BEFORE dinner. Homework too late in the evening will cause frustration, kids are too tired (and so are us parents). Give your student a chance to refuel and relax, then remind them they will have MORE time to play after they complete their work. For reference, this guide to homework minutes per grade is pretty reasonable…..if it's taking much longer than this to complete daily assignments…..please please please discuss this with your childs' teacher!
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 assignment. Please be understanding. Students learn at difference paces. They may struggle with certain subjects 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 work 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. They aren't old enough to move on, and most kids will be so frustrated that they want to stop all together.
Positive Reinforcement: The goal of homework should be to PRACTICE and to identify areas where a child still needs help from a teacher, 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. Best of ability is key. Celebrate their attempt versus the result.
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.
Want more tips on how to get ready for kindergarten (and school in general)?