Suggestions from an elementary/middle school teacher & tutor
H.O.M.E.WOR.K, defined by kids as “Half of My Energy Wasted On Random Knowledge”. Homework is a sore point with many parents and students. For students, they feel as if homework should be non existent and takes up too much of their time. On the other side at home, homework is also a torture that many parents would love to wish away too.
Why Do Families Hate Homework?
Homework has been associated with:
Increasing the stress levels in children
Inducing more frequent and more harsh conflict between parent and children
Reducing children’s access to personal recreational and other social experiences
Robbing families of opportunities to engage together in fun, relationship enhancing activities.
Homework should not be a burden but rather should be a continuation of work done during the school period. Unfortunately many schools pile on too much homework which really isn’t necessary. As a result, often times children are turned off and parents end up doing their children’s homework.
Read More: How much homework is too much? ( Filed Under” Notes” on Facebook Page )
So what really is the point of homework?
According to research studies done, Dr Harris Cooper, University of Missouri, homework had no measurable effect on achievement for elementary students though it did for high school. Cooper recommends that homework “helps elementary students develop proper study skills which, in turn, influences grades.”
Others have argued that homework helps children practise, learn, and retain concepts taught in the classroom. But, “If the kids haven’t learned the concepts by the time they leave the classroom . . .the homework is pointless”- Heather Broos, Cnn.com
Parents should not get stressed over helping their children with homework but should rather take it in strides. As a teacher and private tutor, one of the things I encourage parents to do is, if they come across a concept that they do not know, instead of stressing over it, either tell their child to ask the teacher to explain more, or they set up a meeting with the teacher. But in my classrooms, it was quite okay for homework to not be completed in that moment. However, not all classrooms are as lenient so here are some ideas to help children and families better cope with the realistic demand of homework.
Help for Parents and Families Trapped in Conflicts
3 Mistakes To Avoid
- Doing the Work. Parents should guide their children with homework and not give them the answers or do it for them. What is meant to be a learning process for children ends up being all too easy which leaves children without learning important skills on how to access information or even acquiring correct study skills.
- Allowing Shortcut Methods. With technology at our fingertips it is very easy to access information but having this simple access is often misused as parents log on to the internet to get answers to their children’s homework. Discourage children from going to Google to search for answers. If your child does not know the answer or how to solve a problem, chances are that the concept was not grasp correctly, therefore children should be encourage to speak with their teacher.
3 . Competing with the Teachers’ Methods. Moms and Dads, do not be afraid to let your child know that you do not know the answer. And, if while you’re trying to help, your child complains: “that is not how it is done by the teacher”, sigh, don’t feel embarrassed, let them complete the assignment as for the teacher. Then, as soon as possible, make arrangement to talk with the teacher so that you are on the same page with how your child is taught. You will then have consistency which is important to a child’s learning pattern.
Four Helpful Habits for Productive Homework Times
- Find A Good Location. Children should have a desk or sit around a table when doing homework. Try to cut out the distractions around. No television in the background or ipods on. Tablets and smartphones are used as work tools at homework time; engagement in text conversations and checking social media sites should be discouraged. Provide all the tools they need to work at their homework station.
Watch DIY Video: Make Homework Caddy by Home Organizing Alejandra
2. Set A Consistent Schedule. Children should be encouraged to do homework at a certain times on weekdays and during the weekend. Avoid waiting until the last minute, i.e., late in the evening, late Sunday afternoon, or the day before the deadline. Procrastination stimulates more stress for both parents and children.
Read: 4 Steps to Stop Procrastination. Diane O’Reilly. (Teens with ADHD)
- Make Appropriate Accommodations. Children with learning disabilities should not be overwhelmed with all the homework at once. Rather, divide and introduce the homework in small portions at a time. For such children structure is very important and breaks should be given in between. For example, alternative methods of delivering the ideas of the homework might be considered – audio powerpoint presentation versus the traditional 4 page typed report.
Read More: Tools Help ADHD Kids with Homework
- Recognise & Seek Help If Needed. Always remember that you learn best by doing and children need to learn how to learn. If helping your child with homework is stressful then seek help either from the teacher, a tutor, or another family member who may have more patience. Occasionally, a child’s chronic struggle with homework may be a sign or symptom of a learning disability, or a deeper level emotional issues of perfectionism or performance anxiety. While there are self-help references for parents to support school-aged children with perfectionism, such as Leah Davies, Perfectionism in Children. However, the delicate process of unpacking the underlying web of beliefs associated with the fear of failure often requires interventions led by a child or teen therapist (cognitive behavioural therapy or mindfulness).
The essence of homework should be to practice and build on concepts learned. It should not be a burden or should not be stressful to children.
Charmaine Walker is an educator, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She may be found on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Bonus Additional Information – T. Bryan
Where to Get Local Homework Help for Kids
The struggles with homework for children and parents have been recognised and there are now many services in your community that help families, both paid and free. These include professional individual tutors, small group tutoring programs, volunteer individual help. Please do your own research on the credibility of all tutoring services. Below we mention some local Canadian services in Edmonton & Beaumont.
In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
# Edmonton Public Schools – Study Buddy Program
# Edmonton Public Library. Their interactive website has tools to help kids – Online Resources – homework help. Check out the availability of quiet reading or study rooms at Riverbend in Terwillegar. There is also the Reading Buddies Program – available for kids in grades 2-4 where reading support is provided by high school kids.
In Beaumont, Alberta, Canada
- Student to Student Tutoring afterschool for small cost per hour. Enquire by email.
Help for Families Canada offers counselling support for children struggling at school. With the application of various play therapy techniques, your child will have improved study and organisational skills and become an independent, more confident, and better performing student. Parents will also receive coaching in how to get more cooperation from their child (addressing the homework conflicts and beyond).