One of the toughest aspects of getting back to school is getting a routine in place for homework. No one in the house is ready for this addition to routine, even if your kids were in a formal program during the summer.
Many teachers plan a gradual increase in homework as the school year begins. For example, my 2nd grader only has 20 minutes of reading each night which will increase as the year progresses to include other work. But as your kids age, the homework starts not with a whimper, but with a bang and all of the stress that goes with it.
There are a few things that are critical to getting your kids successfully into the homework routine.
Create a Space for It
This doesn’t need to be a desk of their own. Any designated space should do. It needs to have good lighting and be away from the distractions. For some kids, it might also need to be close to where you are so you can keep them going with a little supervision.
Keep Them Supplied
The easiest excuse for not doing homework is not having the right school supplies. For each of our kids, we’ve put their school supplies in a clear plastic box. Their supplies include paper, crayons, scissors, and glue as well as anything particular to their learning. The box is portable to wherever it makes sense for them to do their homework.
Setup a Schedule
Timing is everything. Right after school may not be the best time to insist that homework be completed. Kids are often tired, hungry, and need a break immediately after school is done. With your kids, figure out when in the afternoon or evening that they should sit down to get the homework done.
Get Them Organized
For younger children, teachers often have a set schedule that they follow each week. For example, new spelling words might be assigned on Monday and reading practice might be Tuesday. Use this schedule to help organize what work is done when. Older children should use a calendar or planner to help prioritize work with different due dates.
Be Willing to Say Stop
Homework should not take all night. If your child is working for longer than ten minutes pet grade level, start asking why this is happening. Is your child getting started right away or are they procrastinating? Do they understand the directions and what they are required to produce?
Check for Understanding
You do not need to look at every math problem that your child has completed. Ask them to explain a few and help them see if their answers make sense.
You, and your kids, can survive homework every night with a little planning and a little flexibility.