Welcome back! Today we are talking about homework. Now that school is back in session, your kids are probably bringing home lots and lots of papers. These papers seem to be taking over your life! Everything from important information, class syllabi, forms to sign, school calendars, menus, scholastic book forms, and, best of all, the ever-dreaded homework has found its way into your home! Well, before you tear all your hair out, I have a few basic tips to help you stay on top of all those papers and help your kids develop a positive attitude and make homework time a little easier.
Depending on their age, ability and temperament, all kids have different challenges when it comes to getting homework done. One of the best ways to get children to improve their homework organization skills is by establishing a routine. Be consistent. If they learn to do the same thing each day, they will develop the skills to become more independent and get their homework and projects done in a timely manner.
First, designate one place for homework. A “Homework Station” if you will. Identify a clean, well-lit, non-distracting area for your kids to do their homework. We use our kitchen table and nearby desk where the main computer and printer are. Large tables in common areas are perfect for doing homework. If you set your kids up in their rooms you may not be able to monitor what they are actually doing. Again, this depends on their age, how many distractions are in the rest of house and their own level of focus. If they are self-regulated and good at working independently, then their room may just be the best spot for them to get their assignments done.
Whichever area you choose, keep it well stocked. Have plenty of paper (printer, college ruled, construction, graph...), pencils, erasers, crayons, markers, index cards, extra folders and notebooks, tape, rulers, stapler, printer ink... organized and accesible. If you are always prepared with basic (of which there are many) supplies, your kids will know that you see their work as a priority and you won't have to run out at midnight to get necessary items.
Store important school information in ONE PLACE. Use a filing system or extra bins and shelving for current projects and important papers. If you don’t have any shelving space available, you can purchase a number of portable storage bins anywhere from Target or office supply stores to Pottery Barn.
Papers with passwords to classroom sites, upcoming field trip forms, after-school enrichment schedules and anything else that you need to frequently look at, can be tacked onto a bulletin board or kept in a file (I tape mine onto the inside of my desk cabinet doors). It is so important to have ONE PLACE for everything school related to “live”. This way, things don’t go missing or get lost.
Set-up a backpack home. In your homework station area, include a place for their backpacks to live. I simply put up hooks next to the table where they do their work. Create a routine with them so when they come home, they empty their backpacks, set out their work and hang their backpacks up in their designated place. When homework is complete, they put everything back in their backpacks and are ready and prepared for the next school day. This is super-helpful for getting their things ready for the next morning. They know exactly where everything is and are ready to “Grab & Go”.
We have had the same after school routine for the past 5 years and it works very well for us.
- Arrive home, hang backpacks and take out work.
- Wash hands (and change clothes if necessary) and have a snack.
- Homework-starting with most challenging or time-consuming assignment
- Sport or instrument practice
- Shower (or bath) read and bed.
This routine has worked very well for our family. Obviously things come up and this may not be practical every day. But if you set yourself up and try to be consistent I assure you homework time will be a MUCH more pleasent experience for everyone involved!