In the quest to help our students become better scholars, there are a lot of preparatory things to do. We have to make sure they have the supplies they need to do their work. We have to provide a good study space. However, when our students need help with homework, what are some things we can do to assist them?
1) Be positive about homework. Many parents and caregivers talk about how important school is, but when it comes to homework, there is only an aggressive “do your homework!” bark. Follow up your promotion of school with a positive attitude about homework too (even if you didn’t like it either). It is an important life skill to be able to be positive about something you don’t like to do. The attitude you express will be reflected in the student’s attitude over time.
2) Relate the homework to “real life.” Show the student how the skills from the homework apply to things we do as adults. If your student has a reading assignment, explain how reading relates to your job. If your student is doing math homework, explain how the math applies to life. Don’t know how math relates? Hint: look at a word problem.
3) Stay informed. Today’s technology provides more opportunities than ever to stay involved. As I’ve mentioned before, many schools are now on SchoolLoop.com and Schoology.com where teachers post assignments. Knowing what needs to be done helps everyone stay on top of the assignments.
4) Take breaks. This is so important! Often, adults want to push students through the fatigue of studying. Trust me, it is difficult for students to concentrate for much longer than 60 minutes at a time. That’s why most of my sessions are one hour long. For sessions longer than an hour, I always make sure to have us stand up and take a quick break (bathroom, water, stretch, whatever) to “get the blood flowing” and recharge the mind.
5) Reward progress. As I’ve mentioned before, incentives go a long way. Not every homework assignment needs a reward, but it’s always nice to relax with a nice bowl of ice cream after a long project, isn’t it? Rewards help keep a positive attitude going and give a distinct endpoint to an assignment. Otherwise, homework can become just one long series of unpleasant tasks, from the student’s point of view.
There are many other ways to help with homework, of course. Stay tuned for future posts on how to help with homework in specific subjects. Until then, happy learning!