Homework is a part of every student’s school experience, starting as early as preschool. Yet sometimes it can be a source of stress for busy families.
Here are seven strategies to help alleviate that stress and create smooth homework routines:
Create a comfortable, quiet, and regular work environment. Two suggestions might be a small desk or table in your child’s room, or working together at the kitchen table. If possible, try for a consistent time that works best for your family.
Make sure distractions like the TV or video games are turned off.
Read the directions to your child, and then listen to her retell the directions to make sure she understands.
If your child is reluctant to start because the task seems overwhelming, break it into smaller elements by using a timer. Have him work for 5 minutes. When the timer rings, he can take a 3-minute break. Keep working with the timer, in 5 minute increments, followed by a 3-minute break, until homework is complete.
Offer encouragement and praise, especially when your child shows good effort.
Go over each completed activity. If errors are found, help your child self-correct.
Make sure completed homework goes right back into the homework folder and backpack so it arrives safely at school the next morning. Getting credit for hard work reinforces a willingness to complete new assignments.
On nights when there is no assigned homework, make it a policy to read together for at least 15 extra minutes before bedtime.
By providing young children positive encouragement, an organized work space, and strategies to complete homework you are motivating them for school success—and the pleasure of experiencing the feeling of a job well done.
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.