With the increase in rigor and changing standards, the amount of homework has grown across content and grade levels. I’m not going to comment on that here, except to say that homework unquestionably plays a role in parents’ lives after children turn five. It can be an annoyance or a battle, but I have found that a system with an agenda helps parents to monitor and support their children throughout their academic careers.
1. Buy a great agenda that has ample room, and pages for each week.
2. Make sure that the child uses the agenda when at school. Sometimes, this might mean that a teacher initials the planner each day noting that the assignment is correctly recorded.
3. After enjoying some fun, social time right after school, check over the agenda and prioritize assignments. Then, set up a timeline for completion, scheduling more challenging assignments first. Estimate the length of each assignment in the schedule, and include time for dinner and breaks. Adult support may be needed to help stick to this schedule.
4. If possible, it helps if parents stay in ear shot to help kids with homework. Every student has different needs, but many kids might have a question or two. Others might need to talk through assignments. When working with students, I often see that when left alone, kids will skip questions and assignments that with support, they could find the answers to. Teacher and parents need to encourage students to utilize the resources provided by the teacher when completing homework. When supporting a child, it helps for parents to re-read the directions together, visit teacher websites, or google it if needed!*
*This requires a big commitment. I am not suggesting that parents do the assignment, but that they prompt kids and offer ways to help solve problems. As parents, this is an important way that we help our kids learn to problem solve. Questions like Where are your notes from class? What terms should we type into google? Can you re-read the directions to me? help kids to learn to problem solve on their own later in life.
5. After all homework is completed have the child show an adult all of the assignments in the agenda, and look together to make sure that they are completed. Then, cross them out of the agenda and put them all in the backpack.
This takes a major investment of an entire family. It is difficult, but in the end will contribute to students finding greater independence and academic success. I’ll circle back to the beginning and again acknowledge the debate surrounding time spent on homework- I’m not saying that this is good or bad- just trying to offer some steps to help families find success within the system.