Homework help should, of course, be age-dependent, decreasing in intensity as your children get older. Your 1st grader may need you to sit down with her each day in order to make sure she understands her assignment and has the materials necessary to complete it, while your 5th grader should be able to work independently. But children of any age can feel overwhelmed or confused by homework from time to time. Assist by reviewing directions and helping to set priorities.
- The 10-Minute Rule
Part of the issue, say many teachers and education experts, is that children are often being given too much homework too soon. The National Education Association (among other organizations) recommends no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. In other words, a 2nd grader should be spending about 20 minutes a day on homework, and a 5th grader no more than an hour.
If you find that this 10-minute rule is greatly being exceeded, that assignments are going unfinished, or that exhaustion and frustration levels running high — it's time to talk to the teacher. She may need to modify the type or amount of work, or your child may need some extra help in certain areas.
- Every Child Is Different
Another landmine in the field of homework involves parental expectations. Dealing with siblings with such vastly divergent styles can be challenging. "Know thy child" is the most important commandment for parents, according to clinical psychologist Ruth Peters, Ph.D. Pay attention to each child's personal study habits. For example, don't hover over a self-starter, but do let a wildly energetic kid ride her bike for 15 minutes after school before settling down to do homework.
- Tips for Easing Angst
Whether the kitchen table is Homework Central or your child works better in the quiet of his own room, there are several things you can do to ensure that assignments are completed with maximum efficiency and minimum angst:
- Understand your child's physical needs, and make sure they are met before homework starts. Most kids will need a healthy snack, and many will need to blow off some steam with physical exercise. Let them run — but set a time limit.
- Set a regular homework schedule. With myriad extracurricular activities and sports schedules, it may not always be possible for your child to do homework at the same time every day. Still, a regular routine works best, whether it's right after school or immediately after dinner.
- Have your child track daily assignments in a notebook or planner. Many schools provide a homework "agenda book" or something similar. If not, buy your own.
- Designate a homework area, and make sure your child has all the supplies she needs. Small, clear, plastic stacking boxes are perfect for holding — and keeping visible — sharpened pencils, markers, staplers, paper clips, rulers, calculators, etc.
- Come up with a system to ensure that homework is not only completed, but turned in. Peters recommends using two clear pocket folders, one marked "homework to be done" and the other "completed homework." If the completed homework is visible in the same place every day, it's more likely to end up in the backpack the next morning.
Your kids just spent all day at school. And now you’re asking them to do what? Homework? Hey, that’s kind of like having school at home. After an entire day of paper, pencils, and books, it’s entirely possible that your child will resist (and that’s putting it politely) getting down to business in the after-school hours. Don’t stress out. Whether your child has to study a vocab list, do a few zillion math equations or finish a few extra assignments, we’re sharing eight tips that can magically transform homework from a super-struggle to some serious fun! Scroll down to see them all.
photo: GSCSNJ via Flickr
1. Work Together
Why not be hands off when it comes to your kid’s homework, while still working beside one another? Return emails, answer your co-worker’s texts or work on the PTA fundraiser, modeling focused work to your child as the two of you spend QT together. If you think this seems like you’re not paying attention to your child or you’re slacking when it comes to parenting—it’s not and you aren’t. Instead, you’re creating a shared workspace where the two of you can get business done—together.
2. Get Creative
Sitting like a statue and calculating problem after problem on a math worksheet isn’t exactly exciting, so consider turning a study session into an all out artsy adventure! As your kid reads a chapter from the assigned text, use the opportunity as a chance to put on a play. If acting isn’t what your little learner is all about, paint out math problems, sculpt letters or turn American history into a song.
Other ideas (perfect for older kiddos) include more sophisticated setups, such as creating a series of paintings that explain a text the child is trying to interpret or interpreting a poem by using their own musical notes. The kinder set can get back to basics and finger paint letters, make clay characters from a story or bang on pots and pans to learn about patterns or counting.
3. Make It a Group Effort
Start your own study group. Have your kiddo invite classmates to read, write and do math equations together. If your student is old enough to handle organizing and delegating, take a step back and let your kid take on a leadership role. Younger kids may need more help—think of this as a mini-educational play date for them.
photo: Simply Southern Sunshine
4. Engage the Senses
There’s a reason those darned fidget spinners were suddenly in every kids’ little hands. While engaging your kids’ sense of touch, smell or sight might seem to be a distraction, it can actually help them to focus. Simply Southern Sunshine’s awesomely energizing “wake up” play dough recipe is perfect for keeping the kids awake as they play with shapes, letters and much, much more. You can also engage other senses: Stash a stress ball in the homework area to engage the sense of touch or play white noise to break the crazy-quiet that’s actually distracting to your child.
photo: Danny Piassick via Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC
5. Design an Awesome Workspace
Take a page from some of the coolest places on Earth to work. Google, Apple and other tech giants all have fab workspaces for their employees. Why? To increase productivity. Create a communal workspace that all your kids (or all your family) can share instead of sending your little learners off to their room alone. Mix it up with a tall desk (by using a shelf) so your child can stand and work, or swap out desk chairs for a yoga ball or a twisty-turny stool. You can see all of our favorite workspace ideas by clicking here!
photo credit: A Beautiful Mess
6. Snack Smart
Let’s face it: A hungry child is an unfocused, unmotivated and unhappy child. Theme it up and create a snack menu that matches the subject at hand. Use letter cookie cutters to create word sandwiches or use fruit and veggie slices to create number shapes or equations. Or try a once in a while special treat, such as these pretzel pizza bites from A Beautiful Mess.
photo: WBEZ via Flickr
7. Office hours
Your child needs some homework help. Instead of hovering (no helicopters here) or taking over and writing your very own book report, set up office hours—just like your college professors did. Make the living room couch or the dining room table into your “office.” The kids can schedule a time to ask questions or can come to your “open hours.” This lets you help your child, without actually doing the work yourself
photo: Delightful Order
8. Fight Bored with a Board
If this board by Delightful Order did anymore, you’d have to start calling it Mom. Visual kids will get a kick out of seeing where they are in the week, posting important assignments, getting special encouraging messages (or silly jokes) from you, and crossing off of tasks as they’re completed. Post your kids’ A papers as inspiration to show them how doing their homework translates into school success.
What ideas do you have to add to our list? Tell us below!
— Erica Loop & Shannon Guyton
Featured photo: Carissa Rogers via Flickr
Want More Adventures?
Let us help you be the rock star mom (or dad) we know you are! Sign up for our picks for the best things to see, do, eat and explore with your kids.
THANKS FOR SUBSCRIBING TO RED TRICYCLE
Looking for more?
View More Editions