If your students are in year-round school, they may already be dealing with homework. If they aren’t, they soon will. Homework isn’t something any of us look forward to, but we learn far more from it than the subject matter it covers—follow-through, for instance. Since homework isn’t going away any time soon, here are four tips to make sure your students get it done well and on time.
1. Plan Ahead
School, with its clubs, dances, team events, and homework definitely requires planning. With all that’s vying for your children’s time, homework is easily lost in the shuffle. But if we plan ahead, we can make it all happen with a lot less stress.
Break big assignments like reports and projects down into small pieces and give each segment its own due date. Schedule these due dates in your planner, on your family calendar, and on your child’s whiteboard so you never forget when each piece is due. Breaking assignments down to small, manageable pieces also helps relieve the stress of giant assignments. As long as your kids keep the schedule, they’ll avoid late-night cram sessions.
2. Plan for a cushion
As you break your larger projects and reports down to smaller pieces, plan to have them complete two or three days ahead of the due date—even earlier if possible. This will give you some wiggle room. If things don’t go as smoothly as you expect, you can still finish your projects on time.
3. Schedule Consistent Homework Time
Give your kids a set time each day for homework. Some kids do their homework as soon as they get home while everything is still fresh in their heads. Others need time to wind down from their day, to eat a snack, or just unload before they dive into homework. Decide with your kids what time is best for them and be vigilantly consistent in enforcing that time.
4. Avoid Distractions
Do all you can to eliminate distractions during homework time. Turn off the television and radio. If you want to play music, keep it low and avoid music with words—that will only serve to interfere with the words your students are either reading or trying to write. Make homework time a cell phone free time—turn them off. Make sure your kids have everything they’ll need for their work close at hand before they begin, so they aren’t bouncing up and down gathering things when they should be completing their work.
If one of your kids doesn’t have homework to do, have them do something quiet like reading a book they enjoy, working on an art project, or practicing their math facts. This will keep them in the habit of working quietly and respecting their other family members who are trying to concentrate. Finally, don’t schedule family activities during study time, so your kids aren’t pulled away from their work.
After study time, reward the family with evening activities such as games, a family trip to the park, or just relaxing on the couch. If any of your children aren’t finished with their homework when study time is over, talk with them and see if they can take time to break with the family before they have to get back at it. Often some time away from the activity is a good mental break. Usually kids can think more clearly and see their project with fresh eyes after a brief time away.
This may seem fairly basic, but it takes a lot of effort to pull it off consistently. You’re sure to have family activities, unscheduled visitors, and emergencies of one sort or another that interfere with your best-laid plans, but do the best you can. Making your students’ homework a priority will pay off in the end—especially when they earn that full-ride scholarship.