We are more than halfway through the school year and let’s be honest. Our kids are beginning to check out. Heck! We are starting to check out. I usually last till Spring Break, but every day feels like Spring Break here in Hawaii. So, with the burnout, let’s think about the best time for my child to do homework. Did you see what I said there….MY, meaning you must figure out what works best for your home.
I can’t necessarily tell you when homework should be done in your home, but this is our policy for mine, and hopefully, it will give you food for thought. There are plenty of things you can do to encourage your child to get excited about school and homework so don’t worry if they’re not enthusiastic yet!
WHEN HOMEWORK BEGINS FOR MY KIDS
Homework begins shortly after arriving home from school. You could leave your child, alone to it, or you could help them if they ask. My kids come home at different times (my youngest two get home about 20-30 minutes before their sister, but their routines are still the same). They come in the house, take out their notebooks, any papers that may need to be signed, place them on the table, take their other belongings to their room. From there, they come down, grab a snack and we talk about their day. This takes about 30 minutes in total. Shortly after this, everyone heads to the table or room to begin their homework. Yes, I allow homework to be done in their bedrooms. Of course, this all comes with age and responsibility.
REASONS I REQUIRE HOMEWORK RIGHT AFTER SCHOOL
- My kids play sports– To head off to practice or games, all homework must be completed. The statement of ALL varies slightly with our middle schooler. This is because she receives a lot of homework, some of it involves group work, and some isn’t due until 2-3 days later. Some nights our games go pretty late, and no one is in the mood to tackle anything afterward. Yeah, that includes this mom and dad. So, the youngest two MUST get to work and get it done!
- It is fresh- The lesson is still fresh in their little minds. They may still have questions and need help, but they have somewhat of an idea.
- I can cook and be available to help at the same time– While the kids are at the table or their bedrooms working, I’m getting dinner started or finishing up a few household duties. There’s no need to sit directly with your child as they do homework. Of course, when they are young (kindergarten) it’s great to sit with them to help get started, but by being around and not hovering, they are learning some independence. This independence will carry over to the classroom, and the teachers will love you for it.
- Reduces the bedtime rush– I have tried allowing the kids to play outside before doing homework. They come in tired and of course hungry. So, they come in, wash up for dinner, eat and now want to go to bed. The battle begins here. It’s not worth the struggle for my home nor a headache for this mom.
ARE YOU WRONG FOR ALLOWING YOUR KID TO PLAY BEFORE HOMEWORK
No! Each child and each home are different. Never allow anyone to tell you your method is incorrect. If your child attends an after-school program that offers homework help, by ALL means, let them do the homework there. Yeah, you should look it over and be aware of what is going on in class, but take that opportunity of them receiving that assistance.
On days that we do not have practice or a game, my kids usually have time to play outside after homework is completed. They have more time to play by doing homework right after school. Trust me; they do play. They have this down to a science, and as soon as they are done, they let me know, run up to grab their shoes, I do a quick check, and they are out the door running and playing.
HOW LONG SHOULD HOMEWORK TAKE
This is just my opinion, but I think 10-30 minutes is plenty for elementary kids. Homework should complement whatever was taught in class that day. I know many teachers send weekly packets home. This does not mean your child has to complete the entire packet in one day. Do the assigned pages only for that day. This, my friend will keep you in the 30 minutes time frame.
So many times, we wait until the last day, and the kids sit for over an hour trying to complete the packet. It’s ok if you skip a day and end up doing two a day, but keep in mind; it may take longer than 10-30 minutes. Packets are meant to do over a time span, not all at once.
Middle school and high school is a bit different. They may have anywhere from one hour to a few hours worth of homework. We prepare our kids early for this. Even if they do not have homework from school, I have something for them to do. Our middle schooler is in an accelerated program, and many of her classmates were shocked at the amount of homework they received (and these teachers treat them like high school students), but she wasn’t phased by it due to the practice we put in place from the start of her attending school.
WHAT TO DO IF IT TAKES YOUR CHILD LONGER THAN 30 Minutes TO COMPLETE HOMEWORK
- Don’t stress. Communicate with the teacher; send an email or write a note letting the teacher know your child had some issues with the assignment.
- Set aside a little extra time each week to provide a little extra help. 15 minutes is a good amount of time.
- Seek outside help. Some kids just work better with others.
- Print out extra homework practice. I’ve found a site that goes from Prek-Middle school, and it’s FREE!
- Play a fun game that incorporates the area of struggle. I love playing games with math. One of our favorites is 21. Yes, it’s an excellent way to practice addition facts with little ones.
Homework shouldn’t be a headache for anyone. It should be a time you come together to see what is being taught in class, a review session for your child and for you to see what areas your child may need help or weak in. Keep it fun! I like to call it a SHOW OFF session. Let your child show you what they know!
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I used to work in a high school dorm and we had an hour long study hall every evening after dinner. I loved it because the girls all knew up-front that they needed to stay busy for at least and hours so no one tried to pretend they didn’t have homework or rush through it so they could go do something more fun. It also got them to go back and review material that they otherwise wouldn’t have looked over.
Of course, this didn’t work for every girl, but most of the girls benefited from consistency and discipline of a set study hall time.
It truly helps set routines in life for when we become adults.
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