Okay, we all hate homework – the kids, the parents, all of us. And that’s good news, because we have some common ground. But the simple reality is, homework is absolutely crucial to success in school. Now I’m sure there are some kids that never have to open a book to ace a test, but most of us need to review and practice the skills and lessons we learn to be able to fully comprehend and progress to more difficult material. This is true of most anything humans try to learn, we have to study and practice before we can retain and use those skills and knowledge. So the question becomes how to survive and even be successful at homework without someone or everyone crumbling into a weepy puddle on the floor. (Homework image from http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/the-flipped-class-flipped-homework-774.php)
Homework First – I do my best work after I have procrastinated, but this is a horrible habit and one I do not want my children to learn. Right after school is the best time for them to do their homework and the best way to avoid late nights and homework battles. I let my kids have their snack while they do their homework, it seems to make homework easier to stomach.
Check their Homework – I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s all about enforcement and accountability. Don’t let them say, “I did it on the bus.” Check to see if that is actually true. I can’t tell you how many times assignments were not complete, the statement was completely false, or homework written down in their agenda was not in their backpack, along with missing books, etc. If items are missing, 8 pm is too late to do anything about it.
Remove Distractions – In our home, gaming systems and the television seem to always be on and are an enormous distraction to those trying to do their homework. An easy remedy and incentive for homework completion is to remove all remote controls until homework is complete. If their room is filled with distractions, make sure homework happens at the kitchen table or where you can monitor.
Quiz your Kids – I know it sounds simple, but quizzing your kids in preparation for tests helps prepare them and gives you an idea of where they struggle. My kids like to have me quiz them before they study, hoping they don’t have to study too much. I finally got wise and had them do written repetitions or practice questions before I quizzed them, and made them write answers they got wrong 10 times. Be sure to start quizzing in the afternoon, otherwise you might realize too late that your child knows NONE of the material and you have an exhausting, late night scrambling, screaming, pulling your hair out cram session, which none of the experts recommend for optimum test results.
Stay in Communication – With as many children as I have, communicating with all their teachers is a daunting task. Schools are becoming much better about parent notification for grades via websites, and some teachers are thoughtful enough to post homework and tests daily on their web pages, making it much easier to verify if your child is telling the truth or wrote everything down in their agenda. If these opportunities are provided, take advantage of them, and make sure big tests and projects are included in your calendar so you are not building your child’s science project or writing their paper seven hours before it’s due. But also, stay in touch with your child’s teachers. Use short, polite emails for the quickest response and if a problem presents itself, take advantage of the extra help sessions teachers offer. They are more willing to work with students who work hard even though struggle.