Adults all have one thing in common: they attended school when they were children. It is not helpful, though, to look back on one’s own school experience to set the homework rules. Educational methods have changed dramatically, and the pace is different as well. Because of the presence of electronic devices in nearly every room of the home, students face tougher demands on their attention. What can a parent do to provide an excellent environment for homework when the conditions have largely changed?
Before the student begins, a careful look at the assignment is in order. Prior to being seated, the erasers, pencils or pens, crayons or markers, calculators and rulers (if needed) and a dictionary should be taken to the site where the student will work. This site must have several essentials: bright lighting, absence of telephones, television, radio, any sound producing devices, and an uncluttered work surface. The student should have already taken care of bathroom needs, and picked up a glass of water to have at the table. The table should be in a low-traffic area.
The first most important rule in homework is that for the primary grade child, the assignment should reinforce what was already covered in school; if the material is brand new, it has no place in a homework assignment. Each homework assignment should be brief, and if it includes copied material, the print and the directions should be very clear. Be wary of any assignment, which takes more than ten minutes per task for this age group.
Beyond the primary grades, homework assignments may involve long-term planning. A student will need to have the list of requirements for projects, reports and displays in order to break down the separate tasks and set a timeline for completion. Older students will need to focus on the directions whether in a short or longer assignment, because sometimes the scoring of the homework will be based on following the directions completely.
Finally, the same respect a parent requires from a child (as in not interrupting when in the middle of a task or phone call) should be granted the child. An adult needs to be observing the homework episode, but not actively doing it. If a student has a problem with any of the previously mentioned components, it may be an excellent time to place a call for an assessment.
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