Homework is a fact of life for most school kids and their parents. For me keeping my kids on track starts with creating a positive and well organized workspace. As a founder of a local neighborhood after school program, I’ve come up with a list of ideas I believe go along way to encouraging and enhancing homework completion.
First and foremost, develop an organized homework routine. In our house, timing is a big issue. My ten year old son needs to play for a while when he gets home, while my twelve year old daughter usually heads straight up to her room and starts her homework right way.
Either approach works great so long as there is some consistency regarding the time (and place) homework is done. Developing an organized schedule may also help avoid procrastination. Just because your child may not have homework on a particular night, doesn’t mean they can’t use their ‘homework time’ for pleasure reading or working on an upcoming project.
I’ve also learned having your child play a role in selecting where school work is done is VERY important. While a desk may work for one child, it may not work for another. The kitchen table may be a better option. Regardless of the location, it’s important to select a homework area with adequate lighting, one that is comfortable for working, and is as free from distractions as possible. Large, clutter-free work surfaces are best.
Homework time is also a good time for the whole family to pursue quiet activities e.g. paying bills, reading, writing etc. Not only does this provide a good work environment, it models positive behavior as your child sees you working at things that require effort. You may also consider a ‘no phone call’ policy during this time.
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If your child’s school doesn’t enforce the use of an organized homework agenda, create your own. Both agendas and checklists have become invaluable tools in our home. Keeping a running ‘to do’ list helps not only my kids stay organized and on top of assignments, but it reminds them about what materials they need to take to class. Crossing completed items off a list gives them a sense of accomplishment.
Help your child develop an organized homework plan and estimate together how long each assignment should take. Also assist him in prioritizing homework assignments in the order in which they should be done. Starting with one assignment or part of an assignment that isn’t too long or difficult is a good idea to give your child a sense of accomplishment.
Teach your child how to manage and organize his time, and how to structure long-term school projects. Understanding how to break down big assignments into smaller more manageable steps will be important to your child’s overall academic success.
Pay close attention to due dates. When dealing with assignments like science fair projects, your child should not only note project requirements and due dates but also his plan of attack. Post required steps like visits to the library or the purchase of materials.
Talk with your child about the importance of not leaving school until he checks his assignment list and makes sure he has any necessary books and materials.
Keep school supplies and storage areas organized. Making sure your child has all the necessary supplies shows him that you take his work seriously.
Help children stay organized by encouraging them to get in the habit of putting textbooks, binders, signed notes, and other necessary materials inside their backpack as soon as they are finished with them. And finally, keeping their backpack in the same location every night eliminates last minute panic.
For more creative organizing solutions visit www.familysanitysavers.com. Sherrie Le Masurier is a lifestyle columnist, organizing consultant, and co-owner of www.decorating-kids-rooms.net, a website geared to organizing and decorating kids’ rooms.