13 May 2010 11:36 AM

Homework Suggestions

by Dr. Rick

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, a perfect time to think about the valuable teachers in our lives.   I'll bet each of you can remember -- very fondly -- a favorite teacher or two from your past, and you're able to tell sincere stories about the kindnesses they did for you and the things they taught you.  Take some time to tell your kids about your favorite teachers, encourage them to tell you about theirs, and inspire them to do something nice for those favorite teachers, especially this week.


Getting their homework done and long-term assignments done correctly and on time would be a good place to start.  And this leads right in to our topic for today -- Homework!


Another reporter has asked for tips for homework.  This seems to be the number-one topic that parents want to learn more about.  What’s the purpose of homework?  Don’t kids do enough at school?  How to get kids in the habit of studying at home?  What are the best organization and time management skills?  How can parents help?  What about those long-term assignments like science projects, social studies term papers, and English book reports?  How to have high expectations of students?


We’ve discussed each of these topics in previous blogs.  Click on the Archive button above to read advice from earlier posts.  But for today, let’s address a fairly typical media request about homework, part of a parents-help article.  Why, the reporter asks, do teachers insist on so much homework, and what can parents do to bring a certain amount of peace to the household at homework time?


Here are some ideas and tips I asked the reporter to pass along to her readers.

  1. Practice makes perfect.  Teachers give homework to give kids practice time on the skills they've been working on in class.  Practice makes perfect.  Ask any skilled musician, athlete, performer, artist, tradesperson, or businessperson.

  2. Get ready for tomorrow.  Teachers give homework to get kids ready for the material they'll be tackling tomorrow.  A little prior knowledge will ease the way.

  3. Get ready for life.  Teachers give homework to help kids develop lifelong learning habits.  A little reading each night is a good habit to get into.  Get onboard.

  4. Learning counts in our family.  Parents can help by showing that learning is valued, honored, respected, and expected in the family.   Establish fairly strict weekday routines for study, homework, bed, waking, meals, play, and family time.  Kids feel safe with routines.  Plus, they'll know what's expected of them, thereby eliminating the “I didn’t know!” excuse.

  5. Teach organization.  Parents can help by showing kids how to organize their study areas, their notebooks, their backpacks.  Many kids tell me they've spent an hour doing a short assignment.  When we stop to analyze, we discover they spent half that time running around the house looking for their supplies, their books, their planners.  Organization is key.  Monitor it.

  6. Talk about assignments.  Ask your kids to tell you about the assignment they're working on.  What's it about?  When's it due?  Will there be a test?  When they talk about it, you're helping them understand it and to stay on track.  Nothing helps us to understand something better than to explain it in our own words.

  7. Monitor.  Check their homework periodically.  Is it complete?  Is it neat?  (If it looks too messy for you, it's too messy for the teacher, too.)  If they tell you there's no homework tonight, you're allowed to assign some.  Review social studies, math facts, or this week’s spelling words.

  8. Be aware of important dates.  Keep a calendar in plain view of the entire family of important school events.  Due dates for book reports, science fair projects, concerts, the school play, sports events, etc.  Check to make sure everyone's progressing on time.  Every once in a while, ask for evidence – just to keep them on their toes.  (“Let me see that first draft, Sweetie.  I can’t wait for the final report.”)  Have small rewards for accomplishments and consequences for going off track. 

  9. Be good role models.  Let kids see you reading for information and for pleasure, let them see you doing math, let them see you writing.  This way, kids see that what they do in school is what grown-ups do, too.

  10. Stay positive.  Sometimes the kids will make you proud.  Sometimes they'll make you wish you had joined that cloistered religious order.  But always keep your sense of humor, show them how to learn from mistakes and disappointments – just as you’ve learned to do – and celebrate with them when they're successful.



Add comment


  • Comment
  • Preview

Blog Posting Rules

This blog is for the good of education - for students, for teachers and for parents. I very much value a two-way communication with you and welcome and encourage your comments and feedback. However, to facilitate a constructive conversation that is beneficial to everyone in this online community, I expect the same respect in your comments that I present in my blog.

Read the full Dr. Rick Blog Posting Rules.