Homework can get tense at times, I've been there! But thank goodness, over the years I mastered how to have a peaceful homework time. Well most of the time!
And since I have learned a few things over the years, I wanted to share these with you and shift how we look at homework -- from a complete nightmare to an opportunity.
Yes, an opportunity.
A time to figure out how your child learns and what's required of them at school -- both powerful things to know and when homework comes home you have a chance to dive in.
So let's look at those papers coming home as something powerful.
I actually get nervous if I don't see any homework coming home but that's another blog post.
So what are some tips to get your child (and you) ready for this homework "opportunity"
1. Give Your Child a Break.
(I know. Not what you were thinking for the first tip)
Allow them time away from learning to recharge.
If you came home from work and then you were asked to sit down and work again without a break. I think you might be a little cranky. You would want to at least have a tea or something and maybe get into some comfortable clothes.
Now your kids aren't gonna think this way, in fact, they might forget they need to change their clothes to play in the mud (yup..it's always the good clothes) but the thought is still the same.
Allow time when they get in the doors to diffuse from the demands of their day. To play and enjoy the outdoors before it gets dark. To talk to a friend or get a snack. They need downtime particularly when school is hard and they are working hard to get their work done.
2. Select a Time
Between all the after school activities figure out what time will work the best. Set that time with your child and explain why that time fits the best. It might work well if they work at the island while you make supper -- if the subject requires little support from you. Or it might be best after supper and before they go to their dance or hockey game. Discuss the time and then make it happen.
3. Break Down the Steps
Let's say your child has to work on homework because they didn't get it done in class (sound familiar?)
Well, this could mean...
a. they didn't understand what to do so they didn't do it
b. they understood it but couldn't focus to get it done.
c. they got some work done with the help of a friend but didn't get the remainder done within the time perhaps because they didn't truly understand it (and it just looks like they know what they are doing when they don't)
So this is why you want to break down the steps for them - which means - you show them each step to complete all or part of what they are required to do. And they watch. Then you ask if they can work on part of what you just did. If they can't. You show them again and ask them what is difficult for them. This time talk through what you are doing. You might even use different colours or you may type while they tell you what they think (scribe).
You are now helping them learn and you are figuring out what they need to learn. This is the powerful part.
You might be saying ....but I'm doing their homework for them?!? I said this too...until I figured out what I was really doing. You are helping them learn and complete something they couldn't do at school and maybe others didn't even realize they couldn't do it (because they are smart kids and will figure out how to survive the world of school)
Help your child learn. Forget the homework mentality... don't worry what others say. Help your child figure out what they need to learn and where they are getting stuck. This is what you want to talk to the teacher about -- not that there is too much homework. And if there's too much homework let them know what you are doing to support your child and what you are able to get done (or not) There is no homework jail (I'm pretty sure!!)
4. Don't Show Them Everything
Let's say your child has an assignment to do. So of course you want to help them finish it. Show them just one part of what they need to do. Don't pull out all the parts of the task and all the books and alllllll the stuff... your child may just SHUT DOWN because step one is hard enough without adding 10 more.
One step at a time. And break down how to do that one part...support them...and figure out what they need.
5. Focus on Your Child's Emotional Needs when Learning.
If they are frustrated - it's a sign something is not working. Yes, we all get frustrated when working on something new but if we have the right steps and support learning will not lead to emotional melt downs. If your child is exhausted from the day because they have been in a 'fight and flight' state all day...then as parents we need to watch for this as well. You child's emotional health is important and has an impact on their physical health. Nothing is more important than your child's health. They may need YOU. Be ready to step back from the homework and offer you and some hugs. It might be the best homework assignment yet.