By Miss Ashley Simms, Montessori Teacher in Upper Elementary
Homework time, it can be a dreaded daily event. Don’t despair! There are ways to make the most out of this time and lessen the daily struggle with your student.
Most importantly, you need to understand how your child functions best. To do this you need to take into account several factors such as the age of your student, your student’s strengths, the distractions in the environment, and your and the teacher’s expectations for work.
Factor #1: Student age
Younger students have less ability to sit still for long periods of time. Also, younger students may need more one-on-one assistance with assignments and motivation to finish their work. Older students may tend to rush through assignments and need extra assistance with checking work before turning it in. A student’s age will often directly affect their ability to focus.
Your child has just completed an 8 – 10 hour day of school. You probably don’t want to do extra work at home, how do you think your child feels? Focus in the late afternoon/evening can be a challenge for students of all ages. Set time limits for your student and give them opportunities to break up their work load with other activities.
Egg timers work great for giving students concrete time frames
Rewarding getting an assignment done accurately in less than the time allotted is a great strategy
Be sure to encourage student’s efforts on a consistent basis, set up a reward system at home that can be consistently maintained.
Factor #2: Strengths
Every student has a favorite subject. During homework time, students want to do the “easy” assignments first. Be sure to help your student organize the order of their assignments so that it is a more balanced work load. If your student loves math, make sure his/her math assignments are interspersed with other assignments.
Keep a calendar to help your student manage long-term assignments (such as book reports) and make sure they are making meaningful progress
Factor #3: Environmental Distractions
As adults, we can manage multi-tasking, such as reading with the TV on, or finishing our reports in a busy work environment. Students often cannot handle these distractions as easily. A quiet work environment is key to a successful homework time. Soft, instrumental music is good for students who get distracted by every stray sound. Also, a dedicated area, free of toys, excess supplies, or lots of movement (eg. family members entering and exiting, dogs/pets running around, other family members watching TV or playing computer/video games), that is not in isolation will help ensure students can work to the best of their ability.
Factor #4: Expectations
Understanding the realistic expectations for your student is extremely important. A meaningful dialogue with your student’s teacher will help everyone involved determine the best work load for your student so they are getting the practice they need, while not feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or unsuccessful. Determining priority work, possible truncated assignments, and feasible plans for making up missed assignments.
Homework will not always be a smooth and easy part of your day. But in understanding how your student works best and constantly communicating with your student’s teacher, you will help your child to function well during homework time.