By PAM SANDERS
Dean of Academics/Assistant Lower School Head
Back to school means getting back to all the wonderful, as well as less-exciting, aspects of learning experiences for students and parents.
Homework and study time are significant elements in your student’s learning. Hopefully, by now you and your student have settled into a workable routine that is positive and productive. However, if you are already finding it difficult to define your routine as either positive or productive, and more in the category of hectic and helpless, then it may be a good time to examine and compare the routine with a few research-based and classroom-tested practices for getting the most out of homework time.
Below are a few guidelines that you might find helpful:
- Allow your student to identify his or her space: *Allow your student to take the lead in deciding an appropriate time to do homework. Likewise, help him or her find a place in your home where materials are available (books, paper, pencil, lighting) and distractions are minimal (a quiet spot to read and write). Keep in mind that boys and girls can be quite different in how and where they like to do homework. Boys especially may find it more productive to stand up at the kitchen counter or lie down on the living room floor while they work. The bottom line is: are they getting the work done? Each child’s individual needs will differ.
- Help your student to maximize time and focus: *Establish a schedule and routine for homework so you and your student know what to expect. Try not to require your child to complete homework the minute he or she gets home from school. A “brain break” that allows for movement, a nutritious snack, and some free expression will help prepare your child to focus on homework a little later. Also, try to make sure you are available during the time for questions and assistance and general observation of his or her work habits. If necessary, set a timer so that your student can learn how he is using his time and challenge him to work with greater focus.
- Recognize your role as a partner with both the teacher and the student: *Your role is to provide support and guidance as needed. Show interest in homework activities on a regular basis so you’re not involved only if there are problems. Acknowledge progress in completing activities and in the learning that is going on. When providing help, ask how the class typically approaches an activity and follow the routines with which your child is familiar. Help your child seek additional resources as needed (such as helping locate materials on a specific topic).
It’s important to note that effective teachers know when and how to adjust and align homework with purposeful intent. The key elements are based on age and grade level as well as the subject content that support the learning process. When correctly aligned, homework will ensure the following for your student’s learning experience: 1) reinforce concepts and skills learned in class; 2) prepare your student for upcoming lesson topics and tests; 3) aid in evaluating student progress; 4) help your students develop organizational and time-management skills; and 5) help your student assume responsibility for his or her own work.
*Based on excerpts from “Strategies for Teaching Boys & Girls.” ©2008. A publication authored and sponsored by the Gurian Institute (www.gurianinstitute.com).
Since 1980, Davidson Academy, a vibrant, interdenominational Christian school serving more than 725 students, partners with families of students ages 3 through 12th grade to help equip them for college, life, and eternity. With an appropriate approach to homework based on age and grade level, our students far exceed all state and national testing scores.