If your school-aged kids are like mine, then by now they're probably well into the swing of endless homework and extra-curricular activities. And if you're a mom like me, then you probably dread the daily struggle in helping or ensuring your child completes their assignments on time.
I really hate being the sterotypical nag-mom, so last year I decided I would offer one or two reminders about homework and leave it up to my kid to finish her assignments. Needless to say, what sounded reasonable in theory turned out not to be such a good idea. I can't tell you the number of times my older daughter put off doing homework last year only to be completely overwhelmed the day before it was due. I felt so bad for her but I also realized she needed to learn "the hard way" so to speak, about homework responsibility.
This year I decided I would take a proactive approach when it came to homework. I started this method over the summer and the results turned out really well! Once my kids became used to the routine, I found they were completing their assignments on time (some grumbling was inevitable) and more importantly, they were becoming more confident in their learning abilities. After a few weeks, I was hearing less fuss and more "Nevermind Mama, I figured it out!"
I'm a very visual learner, and it turns out that my kids are too, so I wanted to create a visible space that had everything they needed in one area. I put all of their daily homework assignments on a giant whiteboard in my living room where everyone (including Baba) could see it. I stuck some masking tape around the edges with the days of the week and each child's name, and color coded the assignments for the day.
I got my whiteboard at Costco (where else?) for $20 but if you don't have a whiteboard, you can use my printable homework schedule and tack it on the fridge, wall, or some other place that works for you.
You'll notice I have a lot of other homework on here that isn't strictly school related. There'a a reason for this: I believe kids should do more than what is expected of them (if they can manage it) because it encourages them to expect more of themselves and lessens attacks from the "laziness bug". I try to keep them busy so they're not constantly begging me for electronics (TV, phone, video games, etc.) and homework, along with extra-curricular activities, really helps to curb that appetite.
In addition, I designated a "homework drawer" in our living room that could house all of their books, packets, study materials (flashcards, etc.) and writing intruments in one place. On a daily basis, they look at the whiteboard, grab the materials they need for the day, and get started.
I still sit with my kids when they begin homework (my younger one in particular has a BAD case of "ants in her pants" whenever she's asked to stay put for longer than a few minutes). This has less to do with hand-holding and more to do with providing undivided attention when help is needed (and it gives me a moment to drink my tea while it's still hot!).
My kids seem to hear a naughty little voice that screams "Let's make chaos!" whenever I get up to use the bathroom, fetch a glass of water, or turn away to sneeze, so I'm basically chained to a chair while they do their homework. Therefore I have to make sure I have everything they need on hand so they're not tempted to run away to build legos in the middle of math equations while I look for glue. That's where this homework caddy becomes really useful. It houses all of their neccessities and keeps distractions to a minimum.
As far as putting the homework caddy together, here's what I did. I just took a simple container that had a pop out compartment and filled it with the things my kids need during homework time: pencils, erasers, sharpener, highlighters, crayons, scissors, and glue. Feel free to add whatever you need accordingly. This little guy lives in the drawer with all of the books and he's been such a time (and sanity!) saver.
This particular one came in a set of different sizes from Costco for about $20, I haven't seen it there lately but you can easily replace this by using a handled caddy (like the one below) from the dollar store or the dollar section at target.
Tips to keep in mind when you begin a homework schedule:
* Assign no more than 3-5 things a day, depending on how much time each assignment takes.
* Each assignment should take anywhere from 10-15 or 20-30 minutes, again this depends on your child's age.
* Keep in mind your child's attention span, younger kids can't handle sitting for an hour but an older child probably will.
* Break up assignments so a little is done everyday, rather than cramming it all in one or two days. Not only is this really overwhelming, but it's also less likely your child will retain the information.
* Be FLEXIBLE! Add or remove assignments according to how much time you and your child are able to dedicate.
* Kids generally need some pushing, but avoid being overly forceful. Learning should be an enriching experience, not a teary one.
* Have only one "long" assignment for each day that takes more time/effort than the others, and keep the other assignments short.
Note: If one assignment takes more time than the others, it might be good to cut down the amount of work for that day. For example, my daughter has "Journal" on Tuesdays, which takes a lot of time, so I took out another long assignment "EPGY" so she has time to finish.
Share your homework tips with me! I'd love to hear your homework time routine!