Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Homework Tips

The kids are back in school so that means that every afternoon or evening you are going to be dealing with homework.  For some families, this can be one of the most frustrating times of the day. The kids dread it and you dread it (but don't tell the kids you feel that way, right?). Here are some tips to make this time go smoothly.

  1. Give your kids a break when they get home from school. They've been at school learning for 7 hours and their brains just aren't ready to do more.  This is a good time to serve a snack, talk about their day, go for a walk, or play a short game.  
  2. Try to set a homework schedule.  I think it works best when you strive to do homework at a set time everyday.  When I was a kid, I had to start my homework at 4:00.  I got home about 3:30 so I had a half an hour break and then I got to work.  The routine helped make homework both a priority and a habit.
  3. Let your child choose a place to do their homework. It could be on his or her bed, on the couch, or at the kitchen table.   Ask your child to consider the following questions: Does my homework area have good lighting?Is it close to someone who can help me if I need it? Is it quiet? Is it free of distractions?
  4. Make the right tools available.  Have a pencil box or other container that holds pencils, erasers, paper, glue, crayons, scissors, notecards, or any additional supplies your student uses regularly to do homework.  I think it is best to only use these items for homework so they don't get lost.  Encourage your student to put them away after each homework session.  
  5. Play "study" music softly in the background while they are working.  Pandora has several stations that work for this.  Classical and instrumental music is awesome as thinking music.  I find that when my kids hear the "study" music, the automatically quiet down and focus because they associate it with our normal homework routinte.  Unfortunately, you can't play it all the time to keep them quiet because then they pay no attention to it.  LOL. 
  6. Make homework a game.  Using a printable game template, help your child to create a simple gameboard. Your child can color it or add stickers to personalize it.  Set small goals for your child to complete.  For example, "When you  complete three problems, you can roll the die.  You can move that many spaces on the board."  When your child completes the board, you can give  a prize.  To add a little more excitement, you can label a couple spaces throughout the board that award a prize if the child lands on it.  Prizes can be reading a story with dad, a walk to the park, stickers, or a small toy.  As your child progresses, make the goals more difficult. 
  7. Give your child a break when homework is done.  This gives him or her a reason to finish the homework.  If I say, "You will do your chores when you are done with your homework, " I shouldn't be surprised if they spend two hours on two questions.  I find he or she is more motivated if I offer that break before he or she  has to do chores or other tasks. 
  As a homeschool mom and former elementary teacher, I know these tips work. I hope you enjoy trying them and that they reduce the frustration caused by homework in your home.  Remember, homework can be fun! Just keep telling yourself that. :)

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