Students who struggle in school often do not have the habits of successful students. Many of my students need reminders to do what other students do without thinking. You can help your child develop these “good student” skills by making sure she has everything she needs handy, reminding her to do them, and checking behind her to make sure she did.
Here is a list of homework habits students need in order to be successful in school.
- Write a proper heading on the page. This includes your name, today’s date, name of the class, and your teacher’s name. To do this, students need plenty of paper, pens, and pencils handy. If your child uses a computer to do homework, make sure he has a printer with plenty of ink and paper. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, “I did my homework, but my printer was out of ink. Do you want to see it?"
- Use complete sentences when possible. It is a good idea to reflect the question in the answer. If the question is "Who was the first president of the United States?" the answer would be, "The first president of the United States was George Washington." Notice that key parts of the question appear in the answer. This not only helps develop sentence writing skills, but also helps when studying later for a test. It is easy to tell what the question was because it is reflected in the answer.
- Staple multiple pages together. I have graded a student’s paper before and thought she did not finish the work. Then after I graded a few more papers I found the second page! The second page didn’t have her name on it. Luckily I realized whose it was and gave her the credit for the work. To do this, students need a stapler nearby.
- Place completed homework in a safe place where it will stay neat, crisp, and easy to find. For an idea of how to do this, read my earlier piece, A Notebook System That Aids With Organization. Some teachers have a hard time seeing how excellent work is when it is written on paper that is wrinkled and torn.
- Be ready to turn in homework when the first bell rings to start class. Students should not wait until the teacher asks for it. This demonstrates that they are prepared for class and ready to learn.
Habits take time to develop. If your child is struggling with these basic homework skills, print this out and post it near where he works at home. When he is finished, read through the bullet points and ask, “Did you do that?”
For additional ideas for how to help your child be successful as a student, you might want to read Back to School After Summer Vacation—6 Ways to Help Your Child Be Ready to Learn. It is important, though, to only work on one or two new skills at a time. Once those are mastered, add one or two more.