Homework Pointers

When school starts this month, many families will exchange the carefree routines of summer with busy schedules of school, sports, homework and bedtimes.

Many parents will tell you that homework is the most stressful part of that schedule, both for them and for their kids.

While there is much debate about the effectiveness of homework in education, the fact is that most students will be assigned homework throughout the school year. And their grades are often dependent on how well they complete it.

The challenge for parents becomes how to keep school assignments from dominating their family’s schedules while ensuring that their kids get the work done.

The following comes from author Peg Dawson, who outlined suggestions for the National Association of School Psychologists publication. These steps include advice from Lesley Iwinski, director of Growing Peaceful Families in Lexington.

 Step 1    
Find a location in the house where homework will be done. There is no right or wrong location to do homework. For some kids, a desk in their bedroom is ideal.

For others, the toys and books in their room will be too much of a distraction, so the dining room table becomes the study hall.

Lesley Iwinski, director of Growing Peaceful Families, recommends allowing kids to choose their own spot. “Give them as much choice as possible,” she said.

“Even if you don’t agree with them, try their idea for a week and evaluate how it worked at the end.”

 Step 2
Set up a homework center. Make sure that the spot for doing homework is kept clear of clutter so that your kids don’t have to do extra work before they start their assignments.

Have them fill a basket with homework essentials like pencils, pens, markers, rulers, calculators, ruled and graph paper. Keep this close to the homework spot.

 Step 3
Establish a homework time. Your kids should get used to doing homework at the same time each day, but realize that for each child that time will be different. For some, right after school is the best time. For others, a snack and a break are necessary before they can settle down.

Some might prefer waiting until after dinner to allow play time with friends in the afternoon. You’ll need to consider the rhythm of your family as well as the rhythm of your neighborhood when choosing a time. Does everyone else on your street play outside after school and settle down to work after dinner? You may want to embrace that schedule, too.

Iwinski points out that it’s important to sync your calendar with your child’s. Note dental appointments and soccer practices in your child’s planner so they know which days they need to work around commitments.

 Step 4
Establish a homework routine. When your children are young, sit down with them at the beginning of each homework session and work out a schedule.

Decide which assignments will take the longest, which need to be done first, and which will require parental help.

“Make it a cooperative venture,” Iwinski said.

Teach your kids to make executive decisions and they’ll soon be able to handle their own homework strategies.

Growing Peaceful Families will host a “Homework Without Hassles” workshop for parents on August 16 from 10 a.m.-noon. To register call 333-3053 or visit www.growingpeacefulfamilies.com

To the full text of Dawson’s article, visit  http://www.nasponline.org/resources/home_school/homework.aspx