Homework—it’s not just for kids anymore. Teachers have always been around to help, but now there are added twists. First is the Internet pouring out answers to all our questions–essays and research papers, too, and putting teachers on guard. Meanwhile, countless parents are crossing the line from making sure schoolwork is done to moving their kids aside and doing it for them–even though it undermines their children’s confidence and accountability.
For starters, make education your number one priority, putting it above all else, including sports. After school, send your child out for some energizing physical activity, following up with end-of-day talk and a healthy snack, such as peanut butter-smeared apple slices. Then get your child working, hardest subject first and so on down the line, in a quiet, well-lit place. For many, that’s the kitchen table where you can watch out for daydreaming and/or frustration. Plus, keep school supplies on hand, everything from a dictionary, thesaurus, and daily newspaper to poster board, sharpener, and three-hole punch.
Remember that teachers forge ahead regardless of absences, so, when your child must stay home, make sure a friend is called for missed assignments and, if they can’t be dropped off for you, arrange to pick them up at the end of the school day.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE: ______________
SOCIAL STUDIES: __________________
EXPRESSIVE ARTS: _________________
Once these essentials are in place, oversee the work, don’t do it—not even when everybody’s tired, you know the answers, could get it done so quickly, could make it right. Instead . . . 1. Check your child’s assignment book faithfully and have teachers sign it every day
if homework’s not always recorded.
2. Make sure that homework is complete and well done; then see that it’s all
placed in a special folder for easy access the next day.
3. Don’t buy into the “We have no homework tonight” or “I did it all in school.”
Insist on seeing the work whenever, wherever it was completed.
4. If no written assignment is due, there’s always textbook note-taking, the making of
flashcards, and/or reviewing to be done.
5. Besides hitting the off switch on all CD and MP3 players, video games, and
TV’s, screen phone calls during schoolwork time to avoid interruptions. This is
quiet time for the entire household.
6. Encourage short breaks (phone calls, snack, exercise, TV) between assignments–
never in the middle of one. For hour-long programs, let your child watch half,
recording the rest for later viewing.
7. When you can’t respond to a homework question/problem, have him call a
classmate and/or see the teacher first thing in the morning. If this happens often,
contact the appropriate teacher.
8. When absent, she should call a “buddy” to collect and bring home missed work—
or arrange to pick it up.
Then continue supporting your child’s efforts. When asked to proofread an assignment, be sure he’s read it out loud several times and already made improvements in content and mechanics. Then, just place a light checkmark in the margin beside any line where there’s an error. One check means one error; two checks equal two errors, etc. To catch misspellings, he should read the piece backward—starting with the very last word, thus isolating spelling from content. Meanwhile, hand back for a redo any work that’s incomplete or sloppy.
And, along the way, remember to ask, “What did you learn today?” instead of “How was school today?” Talk frequently about topics under study and see homework as an extension of the classroom, an opportunity to practice skills and prepare for tests. And, as you promote a can-do, Little Engine that Could attitude, praise hard work and celebrate improvement. Be consistent in your standards and expectations, keeping in touch with teachers when concerns arise. Finally, remember that kids need about nine hours of sleep a night, so set a reasonable bedtime, with reading part of the nighttime ritual. Then, with the reins firmly in her hands, you can get some rest, too.