The dreaded homework monster! Homework has the potential to be the biggest headache about school for you, your child, and your child’s teacher(s). Keep these tips in mind for a smooth start to the school year!
Amount of homework - 10 minutes per grade on average, 4-5 days per week is a fair expectation for the amount of homework your child should have. Yes, even when children are in kindergarten or grade 1 they can spend 10 minutes after school doing something that is “homework”. This will establish the patterns of homework expectations early in your child’s school career, and make it much easier later on when there are many more distractions from homework time! Flexibility is also good. Example - your grade 2 child has math tonight that takes him 15 minutes, read for 20 minutes on Monday, and studied spelling words with you for 25 minutes on Tuesday – that’s an average of 20 minutes, is flexible according to homework needs and doesn’t overwhelm your child or make you feel like a task master trying to squeeze 20 minutes in every night.
Set up a regular homework routine – same space, time of day, materials, etc. Is homework at the kitchen table while you make dinner, or right after dinner? Is there a quiet desk or table that they can leave materials out? Unless the space is very noisy, it is better while they are younger for them to do homework where you can keep an eye and help out when needed. Alone in their bedroom can be very distracting! While there is no rule about where and how children should do their homework, it is important that they have a routine where they’re expected to do homework. Start this early and there will be less fuss later on!
Packing up the backpack right after homework is finished will make sure everything gets put away and will save time in the morning!
You CAN help your child with homework. You don’t have to know everything to help your child with homework. In today’s information society, fact knowledge is important, but also important are the critical thinking skills that come from problem solving challenges – such as developing strategies for when your child is stuck – and you can do that!
- Ask her to explain it to you – this will help reinforce what she does know.
- If he’s stuck, help him to write out his questions to ask the teacher next day – it will help him focus on the parts he does know and show the teacher he did try, and how to help him.
- Look it up together – go to the library or the internet to see if there are other ways to get help.
- Set up a study buddy or a buddy family so that there are other parents and kids to call in homework emergencies.
If your child has difficulties regularly, don’t wait to talk with the teacher. Reach out to the school and have a meeting to discuss your concerns. Your child’s teacher wants your child to be successful too, and sometimes it takes a little coordination between home and school to provide the supports children need.
It’s good if possible to have an extra set of pencils, pens, paper, crayons, scissors, ruler, etc. at home so that your child doesn’t have to carry the materials back and forth each day. This means fewer things to worry about packing up each morning and things don’t get left behind at school or home.
Homework doesn’t have to be just work assigned by the teacher. It also can be practicing something that was learned that day, reviewing for a test, rereading notes, reading a book, telling you about the day’s lessons (teaching you), researching the day’s learning on the internet. This will help your child connect school learning with what they learn and know about the world. Here are some other ideas:
- Read aloud while you make dinner together
- Listen to an audiobook together
- Look up the news of the day and discuss something that’s of interest
- Learn something new - find a topic of interest in Google or Wikipedia to talk about
- Sit together to read – book, magazine, how-to manual, etc., play a board game, discuss a new topic
The change of pace can be fun and a refreshing change for your child too!
If you are concerned that your child is spending too much time on homework each day, don’t wait to contact the teacher. Some issues to consider include: is the work too difficult? Too easy? Why isn’t it being done at school? Is your child distracted at school or at home when working?
Homework is important, but so is playtime and family time – there needs to be room for regular homework in your child’s routines, but homework can’t be the only activity she does each night either. All work and no play make Jack or Jane dull!