Homework is my thing. I give homework presentations, workshops and seminars for parents and teachers; I talk to students about homework; I answer parents' emails concerning homework; I deal with my own children's homework. I have even created an entire homework site for families with pages and pages of homework tips, ideas, suggestions and advice! I know from homework.
But, sometimes families don't have time for all of my homework knowledge; they want the quick-and-dirty, condensed version! So, if you are fed-up with homework and short on time, the following list is for you.
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10 Best Homework Tips for Fed-Up Families
1. Make a list of your family's major homework issues/ problems. Does homework take too much time? Do your kids have trouble getting started, keeping track of assignments, turning it all in? Are you tired of feeling as though it is your homework? Write down whatever is bothering you. You cannot solve a problem until you know exactly what it is.
Share the list with your kids. You might say, "I've been thinking about how every night we fight about homework. Here's the list of what really makes me crazy. I'd like to have some enjoyable evenings, wouldn't you? What do you think is causing all of the problems?" Listen to what your kids say! They are truly the ones suffering!
2. Address the problems and solutions you and your child discussed in a Homework Contract. This doesn't have to be anything fancy, just be sure to include answers to any on-going homework. For example, if your child has trouble getting started on homework, one of the items on the homework contract might be
Mike will start his homework by 4 pm every day.
Please keep your Homework Contract simple: no more than four or five Homework Rules.
3. Give your kids an incentive. No, I do not think children should get paid to do their homework! However, if your family has been fighting the Battle Royale every night, and now it's an episode of Little House on the Prairie- let's recognize and reward! Give your children short and long-term incentives for doing their homework quickly and independently. And, no, I'm not talking about an expensive, fancy reward system. It could be as simple as
Mike can watch TV if he finishes his homework by dinner.
Michaela can choose Saturday night's restaurant if she does her homework all week without being reminded.
Did you know that when you sandwich homework between two fun activities, it's called a Homework Sandwich? Check out more homework sandwich ideas...
4. Make a Magic Homework Box. This is a box filled with your child's daily homework supplies and materials. At homework time, the box comes out, and it's time to boogie! No more "I-can't-find-a-pencil" or "Where-is-my-ruler?" excuses. When homework is finished, everything goes back into the Magic Homework Box- ready for tomorrow.
5. Get some homework organization. You know how you good you feel when you clean out a closet or a drawer full of junk? Your kids need to feel that way, too. Help them children clean out their backpacks, put together homework folders, set up files for returned tests and school work.
6. Speak to the teacher. Teachers are constantly amazed when I tell them that parents complain that homework is ruining their lives, that it causes fights every night, that their children are starting to hate school. "Really?" they say, mortified. Believe it or not, most teachers are not out to ruin lives and make kids hate school! Many times, they have no idea what is happening. Please, please, please, speak to your child's teacher! If your daughter is spending two hours a night doing homework that should take 30 minutes- the teacher needs to know. And, don't believe that your child is the only one not "cutting the mustard." You'll be doing everybody a favor.
I have a list of Homework Questions to Ask the Teacher (see site information below). Ask them at Back to School Night- or any time during the school year.
7. Create a homework friendly home. Ask yourself, "If I were a kid, could I do homework at our house?" Is your home too noisy, too messy, too dark? Do you have a good dictionary- and can anyone find it? Making your home homework friendly does not have to be an expensive or time-consuming- but it does require some thought and effort.
8. Don't hover or, worse, do your child's homework. It blows my mind when parents tell me that they sit next to their children while they do their homework. (Okay, maybe I understand doing it for the first week of two of kindergarten, but after that? Stop it!) Your children work independently at school, and they can do it at home. And, stop doing their homework for them. If it is too difficult, speak to the teacher or get them some outside (tutoring) help.
9. Make your kids go to bed! They need sleep more than another page of math problems, trust me. And, if you don't trust me, there are plenty of sleep studies to back me up. Forget the fact there are a myriad of physical, social, psychological and developmental reasons why kids needs the proper amount of sleep; chronically sleep-deprived students can't learn. So, it is okay if your child stays up late once in awhile working on a project, but it should be a very rare occurrence.
Here's a No Homework Note you can write to your child's teacher explaining why you chose to make your child go to bed. Which brings me to my last tip...
10. They are your kids, and you are in charge. I am not suggesting that you begin second-guessing, questioning and criticizing your child's teacher (please, don't!). I am saying that if your child is struggling night after night with homework, if they are crying and fighting about doing homework, if your once rabid reader never picks up a book- put your foot down! Do something!