Homework. Homework can be something negative and dreadful causing whining, crying, discouragement, and tempers (can I get an amen?!?!). Or homework can become part of your routine. We prefer the later. We have a pretty consistent After School Routine (you can read about that here). Homework is a big part of that, and as we head into the new school year I want homework to still be a positive (most days-because let’s be real…homework is not the best thing in life and we struggle with it too) experience for all of us. I thought I would share with you some tips and tricks that we use to stop the homework hassle.
- Break…after school my kids come to my classroom and I let them chill for 20-30 minutes. This is the time of day where they get their screen time, or sometimes they like me to turn on Netflix and watch a cartoon while they wait for me. I let them unwind and this seems to work well and lets them unwind, but it is a quick little break because I want to tap into those brains while we are still in “work mode” and haven’t completely relaxed.
- Get down to business…As soon as we come home the kids put their shoes and coats away and empty their backpacks, put papers that need to be signed on the counter and get started on their homework right away. While they are doing that I am preparing….
- Snack… I like to give my kids a snack while they do their homework. This helps space out the time between snack and dinner so they are still hungry. This is also easier than making the kids wait and I can get it started while they are emptying their lunchboxes, folders, and putting things away and getting out their homework supplies.
Here are a few favorite snacks…
Muffins…Banana Nut Muffins
Fresh fruit or veggies with some sort of protein…
…or just small bits of everything…
Snacks are not that big because we eat dinner around 5-5:30ish so I just remind them that “a snack is a snack, not a meal” because sometimes they are still “STARVING!”.
- Younger siblings can do homework too…Maddi has had nightly homework for a couple of years now and Guy has always done homework as well. I had him work on workbook pages, work on sight words, play counting games, or simply color right next to Maddi. When he was 2 or 3 I would put playdoh out, he could color or paint, I would give him fine motor practice (stickers on his name, fruit loops on a spaghetti noodle, etc..) he even did “homework” then. I knew he would need a little encouragement later in life (NOW) and so he is already in the routine of homework first. I think this is going to really help us this year because he already knows the routine and has seen Maddi work on spelling and homework.
- Be prepared and have a designated spot…It sounds like we are having a fire drill but the kids know that the kitchen table is their homework spot. I have even set up a homework station for them. The red dresser is where I keep their supplies.
Here is what is inside of the drawer…
When we are buying school supplies I also have the kids pick out new supplies for their homework drawer…
They pick out 4 notebooks for spelling homework…
And then I use the cheap pencil boxes to keep everything separate…
My BIGGEST piece of advice is to make sure you have a pencil sharpener.
I also stock up on glues and other random things they may need.
- All aboard the struggle bus…Let them struggle with their homework…within reason. We learn by making mistakes and trying things out. Let them try to solve the math problem independently, let them make an error on their spelling and then when they are finished have them go back and correct it. Let them struggle.
- THEIR homework IS NOT YOUR homework. If they don’t do their reading, or they don’t study their spelling, let THEM face the consequences that come. As a parent, it is my job to guide, remind, and assist but it is NOT my job to complete their homework for them. That is not how homework is designed. Step back, let them struggle a little (it is healthy, I promise) and then let them face the natural consequences if they don’t finish it. Don’t rush to their side to fix it. An example, Maddi did not do her spelling homework one night (writing the words three times each on a piece of paper to turn in) and she missed recess. That was MORE powerful for her than it would have been if I would have ran to her rescue. She never forgot that piece of paper again.
- Take it on the go…Between sports practices and programs, sometimes we need to take our homework on the go. We are not strangers to a busy schedule and sometimes we can’t come home and do homework at the table. We make it work, we bring it with us to do at soccer or football practice, or games. We just make it work. Plus, doing homework in a new setting can make it fun!
- Set rules and stay firm…Just because we have this routine in place does not mean that my kids happily follow along with smiles on their faces. The truth is, we live in a super fun neighborhood and as soon as we get home on most days they are begging to “go play outside with so-and-so”. I use homework as a leverage, “you can go play as soon as your homework is done.” It’s amazing how fast snack and homework can get done with a little leverage. I try to remain flexible once the routine is established…if the weather is nice they can do their spelling and save their reading for after dinner. But I do stand firm and sometimes that means earlier bedtimes, no friends over, or loss of TV/electronics (Mommy Dearest here).
Use homework as a part of your daily routine, use it as a tool for repetition. If it is causing a lot of emotions and stress, step back, reevaluate, reflect, and try something new. I hope these tips help as you head back into the school year.
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