The fundamentals of instilling good homework habits.
With the school year moving full-speed ahead, you probably have a good idea of your child’s schedule and what his teachers expect for homework. During the elementary school years, the amount of assignments students get progresses at a slow pace. While students in 1st grade might be given a homework packet at the beginning of the week that is due by week’s end, 4th and 5th graders tend to have homework most weekdays, including worksheets, independent reading assignments and small writing tasks, such as writing responses to readings and short narratives.
This time of year, before spring fever sets in, it’s the perfect season to reinforce strong homework routines, especially in elementary school kids. After all, good study habits established in elementary school help carry students throughout their academic careers.
Plan It Out
Homework time should be a quiet, focused period when children are not overtired or rushed. It should involve the act of completing assignments, as well as incorporate fundamental planning strategies and time management.
You probably have a decent picture of the amount of work your child gets on a weekly basis and on which weekdays your child has activities and commitments. Sit down with your youngster and discuss your ideas for scheduling homework. If your child has baseball practice two afternoons a week and comes home tired, use the other days to get a head start on projects, permitting your child to do less work on busy days.
If your child’s school does not have a set method for keeping track of lessons, help him learn to use a planner. Get a small notebook and have your child make a list of his classes. Next to the class, your child can write the work that is assigned and when it is due. Show your little scholar how to check off tasks once they are completed. Your child should repeat this process every day he or she has homework.
Make It Easy
Many children in elementary school have few textbooks and binders. To alleviate the stress of carrying a big backpack with the entire contents of your child’s desk, show your kid how to use a transport folder. In this folder, your child has a side for papers that are incomplete and need to come home, as well as a side for completed work that needs to be handed in to the teacher. This prevents lost papers and carrying unnecessary materials.
Set a Routine
Designate a regular time for your child to do homework. This helps your child understand that there is a specific time of the day reserved for study time. Choose a time of the day that is convenient for your son or daughter, maybe right after school if you like to have family time in the evening. If your child needs to unwind after a hectic day, sitting down to do homework right after dinner might be more effective.
Ensure your child has a place to sit and focus where he or she can be undisturbed. This should be a place where your child has room to spread out with easy access to materials, such as pencils, markers and a dictionary. It should also have limited distractions. Consider a room without a TV that’s far from family activity. Also consider shutting off the phone in this homework room.
Ready, Set, Study
Once study time begins, there should be few interruptions. Kids who have a small amount of work (less than 30 minutes worth) can do all of their work in one sitting and should not have to get up. Kids with up to an hour of homework may take a short break, about ten minutes, around halfway through the study session. They may want to stretch, get a drink and have a quick snack to recharge. As distractions should still be minimized, this is not the time to turn on the TV or go online. Once your child has finished his or her work, go through the checklist together to ensure that each task was completed. Checking off a list promotes a sense of accomplishment, prompting your child to feel successful and confident about finishing assignments.
It is important to promote good study habits before the homework load grows to giant proportions, as tends to occur in middle and high school. By creating a homework routine, kids learn how to manage their time and make a habit of showing dedication to studying. When the middle school years approach, your child will have the skills in place to keep track of assignments, budget time and make the most out of a homework routine. The introductory course begins now.
Ashley Leeds is an academic coordinator and study skills specialist at Thinking Caps Tutoring in New York City. She works with students of all grade levels on study skills and writing.