As the school year gets into gear, long days at the beach are turning into late nights at a desk. You can help your child battle these nerves and start the new year with confidence by using the homework strategies detailed below.
1. Use an assignment book. Many students think they can remember all of their assignments without writing them down. Yet as they move through school and the quantity of assignments increase, accurately remembering their requirements becomes increasingly hard to do. Inevitably, books are left at school, homework is incomplete, and assignments are forgotten. To avoid these hiccups, encourage your child to write down and organize his assignments using this homework management strategy:
Purchase an assignment book for your child with ample space for each day. Have him divide each day into five columns: The first should be labeled “Assignments” and should be given the most amount of space. The next four columns should be labeled “ET” (for Estimated Time), “AT” (for Actual Time”), “O” (for Order), and “D” (for Done). At school, your child should only write down assignments in the first column (“Assignments”). When he comes home and begins his work, he should first decide how much time he thinks each assignment will take, and write the ET. Based on those times, he should decide on the order in which he wants to complete the assignments, and number them in the O column. After completing each one, he should fill in the AT, and when the assignment is done and put away in the right place to be turned in, he should place a check mark in the D column.
2. Pick a regular homework time. Some students prefer completing their homework right after school, when they are still in “work mode” and can carry over the momentum from school. Others prefer a short snack break, while some thrive on the post-dinner energy surge. Any of those options work, but consistency is key. Your child should pick a time of day for doing homework and stick with it regularly. If she has after school classes or activities on certain days, sit down with her and come up with specific time slots for completing homework. Have her write those slots into her planner so they are built into her day.
3. Have a designated homework space. Along with a consistent time of day for doing school work, it is important for students to have a designated homework spot. Ideally, this should be a desk in your child’s bedroom, but a table in the kitchen or another room can work as well. If he plans to use a desk, make sure all of the supplies he may need for completing his work are on his desk–pencils, pens, tape, scissors, a ruler, protractor, etc. If he plans to work on a table in another room, create a “homework supplies box” with all of the necessary supplies that he can keep in his room but bring to his homework spot when he is ready to start his work. Just make sure the supplies are always well stocked to avoid any distractions.
4. Implement a filing system. We all know students who continuously overload their binders with papers from school until the sheets literally start to spew out in all directions. Help your child avoid this organizational fiasco with a three-tier organizational system, structured as follows: Tier 1 is a working notebook, or the notebook your child takes with her to school on a regular basis. Tier 2 is an accordion file that she leaves at home for filing, divided into three sections per class – homework, notes, and tests/quizzes (ex. math homework, math notes, math tests/quizzes, etc). She should designate one day per week to be her “clean out my working notebook” day, where she removes any papers she doesn’t absolutely need to be carrying with her to school, and files them into the appropriate section of her acoordion file. Tier 3 is a long-term filing cabinet, where she files away any tests, essays, or projects that she wants to keep for the long-run.
5. Take “fun breaks.” The idea of completing several homework assignments and studying for multiple exams in one night can be daunting for many students. Help your child feel less overwhelmed and more empowered by building in “fun breaks” after every 30-45 minutes of work (or whatever time increment works for your child). During these breaks, your child can eat a quick snack, go for a walk, check her email, or the like. It should be short (about 5-10 minutes) but refreshing.