Back to school means back to homework. Let these tips make the job a little easier:
Designate a Spot
A designated homework spot can help your child get back into the homework routine. Try to make it a location in the house that’s free from distractions and away from the TV. While you’re at it, take advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on basic supplies to create a homework basket. Fill it with sharpened pencils, crayons, a ruler, scissors, extra paper, and any other items that might help. Your kiddo will spend less time searching for an eraser and more time learning if everything is in one convenient location.
Know the Expectations
Different teachers have different homework expectations, especially when your child moves from a self-contained classroom to a middle school schedule with multiple teachers. While one teacher may insist on homework every night, another may only require homework during test times. Other teachers may believe that nightly homework is essential to the next day’s lesson. Don’t assume that this year’s teacher will stick to last year’s homework model. Be sure to ask.
Talk to the Teacher
Is your kid insisting that he doesn’t have homework this year? Before talking to other classroom parents about it, talk to the teacher. He may be getting his work done in class, but he also might be hiding the homework. Call and schedule a time to talk the teacher early in the year to make sure. You may find that the teacher has a dedicated website or Twitter account to help parents keep track of homework assignments and special dates.
Along those same lines, talk to the teacher if you feel your child has too much homework. A good rule of thumb is 10 minutes of homework for every year in school. This means, for example, that a second grader should have no more than 20 minute of homework per night, while a fifth grader should be able to handle up to 50 minutes each evening. Anything beyond that may indicate a problem with student understanding, comprehension, or time management skills.
Recognize the Responsibility
While parents want their children to do well, they need to recognize that the homework belongs to the child, not the parent. You’ve passed fourth grade, or sixth grade, or whatever grade your child is in, and now it’s their turn. Be supportive, but don’t enable your child by doing the work for them. Don’t be afraid to let your child fail. We often learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and it’s crucial that you don’t take that opportunity away. Your child won’t be denied college admission because of a D on a fourth grade science report that he threw together on the bus; in fact, he may become a better student because of it.
Make it Fun
Homework doesn’t have to be tedious. Mix it up! Some homework tasks can’t be enhanced, but many can. Try singing the multiplication tables, creating funny memory aids for study guides, using spelling games to study the weekly spelling list, using snacks or toys to illustrate math problems, or reading books and assignments together. Adding elements of fun into the lessons can help the information stick.