Sunday, May 4

THE HOME STRETCH - Homework ideas for a winning finish to the school year

We are now in the home stretch of the school year.  Report cards are behind us and parent-teacher interviews have informed us of what our children need to work on until June.


Homework struggles are not fun for any family, and multi-tasking parents face a time crunch at the end of the day.  Time can be a luxury, and the struggle to motivate children to complete homework seems ominous in the face of spring weather, the lure of riding bikes, and finally being able to play in the park again. 


To end the year on a positive homework note, parents can try these homework refreshers to keep children focused.


·         SET GOALS.  Highlight the “need-to-improve” areas in your child's report card, and concentrate on these areas with a few extra minutes of homework time.  Try an extra journal page each week, a few additional math exercises, or writing five extra sentences using the week's sight words.  Plan ahead.  Break large assignments into daily chunks. Use a calendar to plan how much work will be done on which days until the due date.  Post the calendar where your child completes their homework every night.  Let them check off work as it is completed.


·         PUT WORK IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER.  Easy to hard or hard to easy depending upon your child.   Doing the easy stuff first gets some children into the proper mind frame, others need to get hard stuff done before they run out of steam.


·         HAVE SOUND TRANSPORTATION.  Left to their own devices, children can turn homework sheets into postage stamps.  Use a strong folder or a Ziplock bag with a piece of cardboard inside to house paperwork for the trip to and from school. 


·         PROVIDE CHOICE.  It is always a good idea to compromise; not about whether or not the homework gets done, but with the when, where and how things get completed.  Can they start homework after an hours of TV?  Can they do it all before baseball?  Can they do half at night and the rest before school? Try to be flexible where possible. 


·         HOMEWORK SHOULD TEACH STRONG STUDY SKILLS.  Make your child responsible for collecting all the things they will need to complete their homework.  Do not let constant trips to 'get something' interfere with workflow.  Start each homework session by reviewing the child's school agenda or assignment outline.  Try to have one place in the house that is reserved for homework; a desk, study corner, big reading chair?  Find a place that helps the child start thinking, it's now time settle down and work.


·         ENCOURAGE OPEN DIALOGUE. Ask open-ended questions about your child's work.  What did you find hard about your work?  Why is math your favourite?  What are some new words you learned in spelling?  Can you use those words in a sentence? The ability to explain a concept demonstrates a thorough understanding.


·         ENCOURAGE PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP.  Your child will gain a sense of pride when they finish their assignment. Try to ensure they complete it well.  Encourage children to submit a clean page of work; no heavy eraser marks or corners filled with scribbles and big black dots.  Validate to your child the importance of finishing what they start, and that hard work never goes unrewarded.



Children's lives can sometime be as hectic and stressful as parents.  By adopting some fresh ideas and a firm resolve, every child can end the year on a positive homework note . . . no more pencils, no more books . . .