“Homework” continued from page 12
crayons, glue, tape, stapler, three-hole punch, paper clips, note- book paper, art paper, graph paper, calculator, protractor, compass, ruler and a dictionary/thesaurus combo. Also provide a wipe-off calendar for important due dates.
Be Available, but Don’t Do the Work for Them
Helping your child with homework is a great way to connect with them, and it keeps you on top of what they are learning. But don’t spoon feed answers. The whole point of homework is for children to practice skills independently.
Keep a Resource Bookshelf
Can’t remember what a gerund is? Are you a little rusty on what the term "denominator" means? Keep an assortment of reference books or save online references to your Favorites list on your com- puter. A good math dictionary for parents of elementary students is Math Dictionary: Homework Help for Families by Judith de Klerk. Another great resource is the Everything You Need to Know About Homework Series Set by Anne Zeman and Kate Kelly.
Model Learning as a Priority Let your child see you reading the newspaper or books. Discuss
current events, politics or the new art or history museum you want to visit. Find exciting tidbits in their homework lessons and do an Internet search to find out more. Show by example that learning is fun and they will want to follow in your footsteps.
No matter how tired you are, have a positive attitude about the work your child is doing. Encourage their efforts even if they are struggling and let them know you are proud of them.
Homework rewards don’t have to be elaborate, although you may want to up the ante for a struggling child or one who is hard to mo- tivate. A reward can be something as simple as a fun activity when they finish. But you can also keep a homework incentive chart and let your child earn a special activity with mom or dad, some extra screen time or a dinner out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
If you think too much homework is coming home, that your child isn’t familiar with the material or that they are struggling, don’t be too intimidated to schedule a conference with your child’s teacher. Most teachers welcome feedback and want to help your child suc- ceed.
Troubleshooting Tips: Support for Common School Work Struggles
What if my child breezes through homework or is under challenged in school? Talk to your child’s teacher about giving your child more challenging work. If your child still seems to be on Easy Street, you might consider having him or her tested for the gifted pro- gram. Finally, if the problem persists over time, ask to have your child promoted or see if he or she can take classes in areas of strength in a higher grade.
What if my child is getting too much homework? Too much homework can be a drain on family time. And if your child is spending hours com- pleting homework every night, they may get burnt out. Talk to other parents in your child’s class to see if they are encountering the same problem. Then approach your child’s teacher diplomatically with the problem. If the problem doesn’t get any better you might consider dis- cussing it with the administration or the school’s Parent Teacher Association to see if a more reasonable and uniform policy can be decided for the school.
What if my child is taking too long to complete homework? If you have a good homework routine in place, and your child is working hard but struggling, don’t panic. Sometimes kids take longer to learn some skills than others. But if the problem becomes pervasive, this could be a sign your child needs some extra help. Consider hiring a tutor or see if your school offers homework help at its after school program. If your child begins to fall behind, testing him or her might be a good course of action to rule out any learning challenges. Remember, keep an upbeat attitude. Don’t lose heart, and chances are your child won’t either.
Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist who taught elementary school for eight years. She has a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Kentucky. When she was a teacher, she loved seeing her students get lost in books, so the homework she assigned most was independent reading.
14 Sep/Oct 2015 west virginia Familyplus Magazine
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