In part 1 of this series, we established that homework is the child’s responsibility and that it is preparation for the growing responsibility he/she has in life. It was also suggested that homework is practice for the skills that have already been introduced during the school day. In this part we will be discussing different ways your child may be coping with homework, remembering that responsibility remains with your child. You have, after all, already gone to school. So away we go!
There are multiple possible scenarios you may be experiencing at home when it is homework time, but they probably fall into one of the following categories. First, your child may be very tired and can’t stand the sight of homework after a long day at school. In this case, he/she needs a BREAK! Then, he/she can continue in a more alert state. Most children need at least a small break, including a healthy snack.
Second, your child was not listening during instruction and interacting with a peer and/or daydreaming. Your child may be clueless about what needs to be done because he/she was tuned out. It may be that your child is highly distractible and missed instruction because of this. In either situation, it may be helpful to have a conversation about what was going on during the lesson for your child. Continue to keep responsbility on your child no matter how hard he/she tries to divert blame elsewhere. Some kids have learned to be master manipulators when it comes to getting out of homework.
Third, the work may be truly difficult and your child is working more than the 10- 50 minute limit deemed reasonable at the elementary level. For homework time limit guidelines, see the article about the research done by Robert Marzano sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/11/02/prwebprweb47213. In this case, set a time limit, and write a note for the teacher. The fourth possibility is similar to the third where the child does not take longer than the reasonable time, but is still struggling. The teacher will see this reflected in your child’s work as errors, and will know that re-teaching needs to happen.
The final scenario belongs to the parent of the child that independently completes his/her homework without complaint, and there is minimal stress to the parent. Those parents are truly blessed, you say, or is it that those kids have been taught to be responsible and the rewards are now being reaped? It may depend upon the child as you may have guessed. If you are not in that small percentage of parents, you can, however, reinforce the expectation that your child’s neatest and best effort is the expectation set by you. When the same expectation is set at home and school, the very best of the student is brought center stage. Soon, you too may be in the group of parents that are finding homework becoming easier! Three cheers for smooth sailing!
This past Wednesday, in Mt. Diablo Unified School District http://mdusd.k12.ca.us, El Monte Elementary and Wren Avenue Elementary Schools’ staff met together to collaborate about their homework practices. In Part 3 of this series, we will be discussing the collaborative process between parents, students, and teachers.