As a mom and teacher homework has always pulled at my heart. The teacher side of me doesn’t believe in homework. I believe in reading books and discussing them, cooking and following recipes, and spending time with family at the dining room table enjoying a meal. The mom in me knows that there are things my child might have to review, but will not allow it to consume our afternoons. It is through my 16 years in education and now 6 years into being a mom that I share some of my tips to getting ready for and surviving the following year with homework.
A few things to remember: schools/districts have guidelines they should follow in regards to homework. Make sure you know what they are! 30 minutes (give or take a few more) should be 30 minutes. Homework should not be the time when you get to finish all the work the teacher didn’t get to. It is to review the concepts learned. Homework should not be graded. Homework should not take hours of your day every day. Rant session over… seguimos?
The first thing to consider is what their working style is. Younger children might not know this but as adults, we can already start to see it. Do they like to sit a table and color or do they throw their things all over the floor? Do they use the table you bought them for homework or is it full of toys? Looking around your home for clues is a great start. But speaking to last year’s teacher is even better. Yes, last year! They know your child well and will be the best in helping you set up a space at home that works for them. Set up a space that accommodates their style of work, even if that means it’s in a separate room of your home. If you have more than one child be prepared to adapt to their needs and schedules too.
A second must-have: materials. You can use the school supplies list to guide you on what types of things they will need at school. Always make sure you have extras at home for them to use. Also, pick up craft items, posters, and foam board to have in the house. I once saw a friend who had a craft box just for their child’s projects. When their child remembered the diorama the night before they would pull out the box and pull it together. Check their materials bin at home regularly. Pencils and erasers should be on auto-ship with Amazon!
For the Adult Working With Them
Have some wine handy… just kidding. Ok maybe not! Working on school work with your own children can get pretty messy. In our home, I have the two extremes and last year while in kindergarten I could already tell that I would need to find help to work through homework time with my oldest.
Enter PATIENCE! When we began to argue and he would quote his teacher I would stop the argument by stating that I was going to write a note to the teacher that went like this, “He said that YOU said…” That worked like magic! Most of the time he did what I suggested. The one time I wrote the note the teacher happily corrected him and told him that his mother was right (1 point for me!). Deep breaths, MUSA moments and patience.
There is one gadget that I swear by, and that’s a timer. Not the one on your phone, an old school kitchen timer. We can’t forget that during the school day our children are expected to complete assignments in a certain amount of time. Unless your child has extended time then there is no reason why you should sit for hours finishing up a worksheet. The timer goes off, time to move on. If they don’t finish it’s ok, homework is a review. Once they see you mean business they will begin moving their pencils faster and getting things done. I always write notes to the teacher on the homework if they had trouble and needed help the next day or if we were not able to finish something.
Finally, remember that homework is FOR YOUR CHILD NOT YOU!
I repeat, we did our own homework years ago, this time it’s for THEM to do. Children need to learn that it’s ok to make mistakes. You can correct them but you don’t have to make them erase everything. I always have a pen or colored pencil and if I show them something that is wrong I write it underneath their answer. This way the teacher can see the original work. Always remember that this is a review that piggybacks on something they have learned. Your job is to support them as they practice and head back the next day to keep mastering the skill. Stay consistent with routines and reflect and readjust as needed. Salud Miami Moms to the 180 days ahead of us!