By Lani Aquino
With the school year in full swing, the heavy sighs and slouching shoulders that can accompany homework are likely playing out at homes everywhere, and that’s merely the reaction of the parents. While there are multiple perspectives on the merits of homework and/or the amounts of homework based on grade level, there is also the reality that most kids will be assigned it regardless of where personal or parental philosophies on the subject fall on the spectrum. With that being said, having some strategies and resources in place for helping kids handle homework can be life and tear saving for all those involved.
Dedicate a Space- Creating a homework space with good lighting, comfortable furnishings, and a dash of fun can help ease the homework woes. Kids can help in the decorating of the space to add their own special touch and make it more inviting. The space may be in a bedroom, living area, kitchen, or any other spot, but it should be homework friendly and as distraction free as possible. Shared spaces can still get a little individuality tossed in with favorite colors, pictures, and/or key interests as part of the decor.
Set the Time- Many family schedules are off the charts when it comes to activities and obligations. Somehow, homework has to fit into the mix. Parents need to help kids carve out the niche’ where homework can fit. This may be a set time daily if the schedule allows, or it may need to be a floating window depending on other agenda items that fluctuate. Many adults struggle with time management, so it’s no surprise that kids may need some assistance in figuring out how to fit homework into a busy schedule. When larger homework loads occur, setting the time can also involve encouraging mental and physical breaks to avoid burnout.
Stock the Supplies- Pencils, paper, glue, markers, ink, charging stations, etc. are all part of the necessities of the modern student. It’s a lot easier to have supplies on hand than to have everyone get frustrated when something is needed. Stock the homework space at the beginning of the school year with all the typical items, and ask teachers if any specialty goods will be needed. No one wants to make a night-before-it’s-due trip for poster board. Recheck supplies each quarter and have kids be responsible for making it known when something is running low.
Know the Resources- Society is changing and so are the methods and strategies used in the classroom. While everyone may be able to arrive at the right answer, the new way of steering the learning process may have changed since parents were the students. When kids are struggling with a methodology or concept, it may be necessary for parents to look beyond their own school experiences and get some help. There are great online resources with tutorials like Khan Academy, many libraries offer call-in homework help, and teachers may have online video resources. Having a list of these go-to helpers can be a great way to alleviate some homework angst.
Be “In the Know”- Yes, kids need to take responsibility when it comes to getting work done and knowing due dates, but that doesn’t call for a complete separation of home and school. Parents can be “In the Know” without taking over the student’s role in developing as a responsible learner. Taking the time to talk to kids about the assignment they are completing, what’s happening in the classroom, upcoming projects, tests, etc. helps them see that parents value the time and effort they put into learning. This can also help parents get the self-portrait version of their kids as learners. When parents stay in the loop in this way, it makes conversations with teachers much easier. Part of being “In the Know” also means knowing a child’s limits and when it may be time to talk to a teacher about homework challenges and frustrations. This may lead to the discovery that a heavy homework load is the result of not using time provided in class wisely or it may lead to a teacher discovering that an assignment was more cumbersome than intended or it may lead to discovering a more efficient way to complete the work. Whatever discovery may be made can only occur when an “In the Know” parent is able to make the inquiry.
Dogs can no longer be the eaters of digital homework, and a majority of teachers still assign it, so it’s time to figure out how to help kids navigate it. Parents shouldn’t be the doers of homework, but they can certainly play a big role when it comes to helping kids manage a homework load of any size. These 5 tips will have families positively prepared for completing homework.
If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings
and tools (for teachers
and for families
) that we offer.