I have been a very lucky mom so far in my children’s school career. There has been almost no homework for them from kindergarten through to third grade. Both my daughters are in a Montessori program, and most of their work is kept in the classroom. This year however, my oldest is in grade 4…and we have begun to see homework. Not a lot, but in September 2012 they are changing schools and moving to the Catholic school close by. (Which brings with it a whole bunch of new issues, but I digress.)
I have friends whose children go to this new school, and I know there is a lot of homework each night. We are going from about 10 minutes a night…to probably about 60. Or more. Yikes. And that’s for grades 4 & 5. I know it will only become a larger concern as time goes on, so I am addressing it right now so we can create good time management skills and a positive spin on homework. I have a list of recommendations for all you parents out there who are entering the homework domain.
– Create an inviting space. A spot that is close to where the rest of the family is gathering, but still is quiet and free of distractions.
– Establish a set time each day for getting it done. My recommendation during the week is for them to come home from school, have a snack and a few minutes of downtime, then get to it while dinner is being prepared. This way it is not after dinner when they should be winding down for bedtime. There is also not a panic when they pull out their homework and you find out they have a 2 hour project that HAS to be handed in tomorrow and it’s already almost time for sleep!
– Make sure any materials your child may need are readily available- keep on hand pencils, erasers, marker, highlighters, paper, scissors etc. (If you are like me, you will have fun buying up a bunch of school supplies, it always makes me think of back to school.)
– Provide guidance if necessary, but don’t provide answers. This is a chance for your child to discover independently- let them.
– Do the tough stuff first, leave the easier tasks to the end when they are getting tired. Take a break if you see them getting frustrated or losing interest. Get them up to get a drink, or do some jumping jacks, or a yoga stretch or two. Make it a fun part of the homework routine.
– Stay in touch with your child’s teachers. If you feel the homework is excessive, don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting to discuss. Every school and teacher are different.
Now, these are recommendations for parents of young students- my hope is that if these guidelines get put into place at an early age, as kids grow they will be more likely to take the responsibility of their homework seriously, and upon themselves.
At the very least, that is what I hope for in our house!