The biggest complaint I get from parents and kids around this time of year revolves around homework. The honeymoon phase of the new school year has worn off, and now we’re in the thick of things long enough that “keeping up” is starting to turn into “slipping up.”
To ease the burden for both of you, help your child master these 5 steps to complete the “Homework Loop” more peacefully and efficiently.
1. Know what to do. Does your child really know what he has to do, and when it’s due?! Even in elementary school, kids are using some type of Assignment Book or reminder cards.
When your child comes home everyday, DON’T ask “Do you have any homework today.” Make it a clear rule and expectation that there is some type of schoolwork to do in the evening every day (even if it’s clean out notebooks, review material, get caught up, get ahead, or silently reading on a topic of interest). With this everyday expectation, change your question to “What do you have to do today?” Have your child show you his assignment book, with the expectation that SOMETHING needs to be written in there and worked on every day. If not, you’ll find something extra for him to do! Why? Because your family values are that education is important, as is self-discipline, and you’re following through with practicing your principles. Calmly and consistently. Or not.
If your child is having trouble getting the right assignments down in his notebook, ask a teacher, aide, or study buddy to double check the assignment book at the end of the day – at least for a couple of weeks to help establish correct habits. If your child doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do, he can’t really do it, right?
2. Transport raw materials. Your child has to also make sure he has the book, worksheet, or other necessary materials for the assignment. He and/or his “checker” at the end of the school day need to make sure the right stuff is in the backpack before heading home. As soon as he gets home, you need to make sure that he not only can show you what he needs to do, he can show you he has the materials to do it. If not, right back to school you go, or he suffers the natural consequences, and/or he faces additional consequences from you as well.
3. Do the work. Ahh, there’s always a catch. Set a scheduled homework appointment time, just like any other extracurricular activity. Really, schedule a set, finite time – as in – half-hour, from 7:00 – 7:30 tonight. At the appointed time, summon your child to the table/desk/quiet study area, and commence homework activity. (If he can get in the car on time to go to soccer practice, he can and will be expected to show up at the scheduled time for schoolwork practice.)
Begin the session by saying – “Show me what you’re going to get started on now.” And offer any support he’d like in getting started. Be available to answer questions to assist, as he asks for it. Don’t hover, smother, or disappear. Be around, working on your own quiet work at this time would be ideal modeling and may help him focus.
A quiet study hour in your household, with all electronica turned off, is a very smart and healthy move for everyone’s productivity and well-being.
4. Transport finished product. At the end of the homework appointment, say “Show me what you did.” See that he made an honest effort, but don’t correct his work – that’s the teachers job! – unless he asks you to proof it. This gets responsibility for the work where it belongs – on your child – and minimizing unnecessary nagging arguments for you both. Of course, if your child is struggling to meet acceptable standards, you may need to amend the contract here to include certain tutoring time for corrections and further help – by you if you can do it constructively – or by a hired tutor if you can’t.
Anyway, whoever is going to check the work, also makes sure that the work and any supplemental materials get in the proper folder(s) and into the backpack for the next day. Of course, check that the filled backpack goes out the door with your child in the morning.
5. Turn it in! You can do all this meticulously, know the work was completed at home, and still find out that your child is getting zeros in the teacher’s grade book. Nothing is more exasperating for parents. So, how to know that he actually remembered to submit the work at the right time and place? If this is a problem, ask the teacher to initial that assignment in the assignment book when it has been turned it – she acknowledges she got the work. That way, you can check each day, not only on what your child has to do tonight, but what he actually turned in earlier that day.
Close the Homework Loop with these 5 steps, and you and your child will enjoy less homework hassles and more homework happiness (well, at least satisfaction).