Managing Homework

This blog was feaured on The Modern Parent segmen of The Rhode Show! Click here to watch Miss Nicole present Manging Homework on TV.

School’s back in session – start the year out right with some homework “best practices” in your home this school year!

As school years go by, the task of homework becomes more and more daunting.  After all, children are engaged in extracurricular activities after school hours that homework often gets pushed to the back burner.  The truth of the matter is homework should be priority for children, as well as parents.

First, it’s crucial to understand the importance of homework as a parent.  We must realize as parents that teachers do not assign homework to make our lives difficult – homework is an important, essential extension to a child’s learning.  Remember that homework has a purpose – most teachers usually assign homework for 1 of 4 very the following important, valid reasons:

1)For students to be able to practice a skill

2)To provide students with an opportunity to prepare them for an upcoming lesson

3)To extend their existing knowledge

4)To allow children to use their creativity and extend problem solving skills

5)To teach children that learning takes place everywhere, not just in a classroom

6)To improve remembering and understanding of school work

7)To instill a sense of responsibility and independence

As children get older, their load of homework increases year after year, generally speaking.  It is important that parents understand, embrace, and value this experience for their child in order to provide support and ensure that the experience is meaningful for their children.

Now that you understand the main reasons your child comes home with so much homework, here are some tips to help everyone succeed:

1) Create a special homework environment for your child – design the space together.  What kind of furniture and accessories will be needed?  Which room of the house will it be in?  This provides a consistent, designated area for your child to feel safe, secure, and confident while doing school work.  It will also encourage your child to stay organized.

2) Show a true interest in your child’s homework assignments – instead of dictating that the assignment must be complete, engage in a conversation about the assignment by asking your child questions.  It is also helpful to ask your child if he/she needs help – provide them with support, but be sure not to “give them the answers.” 

3) Find a plan and stick with it – establish a homework time and routine and stick with it as much as possible throughout the school year

4) Be a role model – take the time to read a book or newspaper to instill similar values into your children;  sit with your child during homework time rather than being in another room or watching TV.

5) Communicate with your child’s teacher – if your child is struggling and you are unsure of how to help – call or e-mail their teacher.  School teachers are always excited to hear from parents and are always willing to help.

6) Acknowledge the hard work your child does – celebrate success stories or overcome obstacles throughout the course of the school year.

7) TURN OFF THE TV!  It is so important for children to be able to focus on learning, not on watching a screen.  Stay away from the television, tablet devices, computers and cell phones during homework time, unless your child must research on the internet.

8) If your child has to do research using the internet, be sure to get a list of safe, reliable, secure websites from your child’s teacher.  As a parent, ensure you have privacy and security settings set on your home PC to keep your child safe from inappropriate sites and invalid information.

9) Be sure your child can be successful – remember that your child will never want to be the kid who never does his homework…  Be sure he/she has enough quality time to complete homework assignments, and always be sure to know when your child has homework!

10) Watch for signs of frustration or failure – take note if your child becomes easily frustrated with homework and be sure to inform your child’s teacher.  Your child may need homework adaptations, or may not have the tools necessary to complete assignments.

11) Celebrate success – celebrate homework on a weekly or monthly basis – be sure your child knows homework matters!

12) HAVE FUN!

For more information, download this great publication from the United States Department of Education:  http://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/homework/homeworktips.pdf

Nicole Chiello is an Education Specialist at The Children’s Workshop. She received a BA in Elementary Education and Psychology from URI. Nicole has been with the team for four years.  Before being a director, she was a school-age coordinator, as well as a substitute for the Public Schools. Her favorite thing about working with children is the guarantee that every day is different!