This post is sponsored by Sylvan Learning.
On Monday afternoon I stood in my usual spot at the front of the school eagerly awaiting the sound of the bell signifying the end of school, anxious to hear how their first day went. After a short walk home, my two kids dropped their backpacks in the same spot just inside the back door where they always go, unpacked their backpacks, washed their hands, and sat down for a snack while showing me the slew of forms I needed to fill out and send back, happy to give me some homework for a change!
Our coming home routine is one of the most important ones that we’ve established since our kids started elementary school. For the past six years it’s allowed me to check in to hear about their day, nourish their hungry bodies and brains after a day at school, and serves as a dedicated time to complete homework.
Because homework is important!
From my perspective as a former teacher, I know that it’s allowing my third and fifth grader to practice what they’ve learned in the classroom as they approach mastery of concepts. As a parent, I like seeing what they’re learning in class. Homework serves as a way we can be connected to the school day but so many times it’s a struggle and simply not enjoyable.
Establishing a homework routine can make it easier to get it done without the fights and stress over assignments that seem to pop up at the last minute. Here are five simple things to do now in order to make this year’s homework easier on you and your kids.
1. Start a routine
Now is the perfect time to get organized and implement routines, even if your child has started school. “Every family needs routines,” says the American Academy of Pediatrics. “They help to organize life and keep it from becoming too chaotic.” Having a regular, predictable, and consistent routine will provide structure to your family’s day and helps everyone stay on track. Visuals can help younger kids but you don’t have to create your own! There are lots of great after school checklists that include homework on Pinterest and a quick search yielded this fabulous After School Checklist from PrettyProvidence.com. This a free printable can be downloaded, framed, and checked off daily with a dry erase marker! Upper elementary ages and older can benefit from using a planner that will help them keep everything organized. Sylvan Learning recommends having children “write down assignments, appointments and to-do lists” and suggests dedicating a time to “review items in the planner at both the beginning and end of the day to stay on track.” For more tips on starting routines, visit 10 Good Study Habits to Help Your Child Succeed in the New School Year.”
2. Carve out a time for homework
As you create your routine, think about your family and each day’s schedule to figure out a good time to get homework done. We tend to do homework right after we come home each day before sports practice, music lessons, and whatever else our kids choose to do when they come home from school. This method works well for our family. Completing homework soon after we get home demonstrates the importance of the task but also ensures that it’s done well before dinner and bedtime and still allows plenty of time for fun.
3. Create an environment that makes it easy to complete homework
Sitting down in a place where pencils, pens, crayons, calculator and a dictionary are readily available makes it easier for kids to complete homework they can do independently without wasting time searching for supplies. Sylvan Learning also recommends observing your child as they do their homework since every child has a different learning style and the right environment for one child, may not be what works for a sibling. For other ideas on creating a great study space, read Sylvan Learning’s 5 Tips to Create the (Near) Perfect Homework Environment and the Homework Checklist for Parents.
4. Make yourself available
A recent Sylvan survey found 63% of parents didn’t feel that they could help with all of their child’s homework. If you’re feeling a bit intimidated by the math your middle schooler is bringing home these days, it’s ok. Just don’t tell them! Be conscious of the potential negativity that phrases like “I’ve never been good at math” might have on them because even if you’re not math confident, you want your student to feel good about their skills even if they don’t know all the answers all of the time. Instead make yourself available for homework help by siting down and look at the problems with them. Instead of letting them get frustrated, brainstorm where they might be able to go for help if you can’t assist them. Suggest that they call a friend in the class, Facetime or Skype with a good family friend or relative who is a math whiz, ask if they can reach out to their teacher via email, or seek out a math tutoring program that can boost their confidence in the subject. Sylvan offers math help by grade level and topic and ensures that they place kids in the right level based on their assessment of their math skills to provide targeted instruction that’s just right for them. Sylvan also offers reading, writing, test prep, homework help, and online tutoring so it’s easy to get the help you need for your child so they develop a love of learning.
5. Mix it up and use technology for a multimedia approach
Every child has a different learning style and many times kids can benefit from the interactions from online websites and apps that reinforce basic math facts and spelling while also encourages life long reading when reading from a tablet or eReader. Consider mixing up your homework routine by adding some educational app or websites into homework time and chances are your child will welcome the break from the paper and pencil tasks and flashcards. They might even study longer!
6. Know where to go to get help establishing establish good study skills
As kids get older, it’s sometimes better to have some outside help teaching your kids the study skills they need in order to complete their homework. Middle and high schoolers might benefit from hearing how study skills can be applied in the real world, getting tips on time management, or understanding the importance of using a planner. If you feel like your student might need some extra assistance, Sylvan Learning is offering a new Study Skills course focused on Organization and Time Management at the special price of $199 (a $200 savings) now through September 30, 2014. Just in time for the back to school season, this four-week program includes eight sessions to help students learn time management, strategic planning skills, better organization habits, how to use an academic planner and how to properly track grades.
Here’s wishing you and your family a great school year free from homework struggles!
This post was sponsored by Sylvan Learning but all opinions are my own. Images sourced from Pixabay.