Saturday, 24 March 2012

Tips for getting homework done painlessly

Does your child really, really like his/her backpack? That may seem like a silly question, but the first priority for the successful completion of homework is getting books and assignments home and back to school safely. The child who is allowed to choose his favourite backpack will be more inclined to keep a watchful eye on it. It's less likely to be lost or stolen.

Inside the backpack, there should be an "Agenda Book". Many school boards have chosen to purchase one for every student. In this small soft-covered notebook, there is a specific space for each day of the school year.

Every afternoon, the teacher will write the day's homework on the blackboard. The children copy the assignments into the agenda book. If the children are very young, the teacher may supervise the class to see that they take the necessary books out of their desks, and place them in the backpacks.

Now, the proper books and assignments, written in the agenda book, have a good chance of making it home. They should be laid aside while the child has some free time. He's been cooped up, working all day. He needs a break, outside with his friends in the sunshine and fresh air, if  the weather is fine. After supper, the child and parent consult the agenda, and plan the homework schedule.

It's a good idea to do the hardest subject first, when the student is most alert. There should be a quiet, comfortable place to work. Young children often prefer the kitchen table; older students may have a desk in their room. The light in the homework area should be bright and there should always be a supply of sharp pencils, erasers, coloured pencils and glue close at hand.

Let the child work on the assigned tasks, but be available if he needs a helping hand. He should know that the work will be checked for neatness and accuracy when he's finished.

At the half-hour mark, a juice snack would probably be welcome. Homework in elementary school should seldom run over an hour. Assignments should contain no new work, but be review and reinforcement of material covered in class.

When the student is finished, check to make sure that the work is done, that it's reasonably neat, and that it's completed to the best of his ability. It may not be perfect, and that's fine. Have him check any items you can see are wrong. If he catches the error, OK. If he doesn't, you have a choice. You may help him fix it up, or if you're not sure how the teacher wants it done, leave it. The child has completed the homework to the best of his ability, and that's all that can be expected of him. Have him pack up his backpack, so he won't have to scramble around in the morning.

From now to bedtime, the child should have free time. He could watch TV, read, talk on the phone, play computer games, whatever he chooses. That's one of the rewards for being responsible enough to complete the homework satisfactorily, and on time.

If this routine is established in September every year, it will become a habit. If the child is uncooperative, he'll lose his TV time. If he still doesn't comply with your expectations, he'll have to start right after school and miss his playtime. He'll soon figure out that the routine you've established works best for everyone.

If you feel that he's being assigned too much homework, speak to the teacher. She won't know there's a problem unless you tell her. It's in her interest too, to have a happy, well-adjusted student. When the home and school work together, the child benefits. Childhood passes too quickly to have fights, frustration and fatigue over homework issues.

If your school doesn't supply agenda books, any small, soft-covered notebook will be a good substitute. You can pick one up while your child is shopping for a  new, really super-cool backpack.

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