Written by Ellen Percival, Calgary's Child Magazine
School is just around the corner, and chances are you can still remember last year's homework woes. This year, get a jump-start on homework organization before it becomes a hassle at your house.
According to Ginger Wilson, a parent educator with the Family Program, “one of the biggest challenges for kids is organizing and keeping track of all their assignments, activities and deadlines. Add the piles of paper that float around in backpacks and clog binders and you can have an organizational nightmare.”
"Keeping track of everything our children do in their busy schedules is tough on parents,” says Ginger, “but with a little effort up-front and some monitoring, we can help our children develop good work habits and take more responsibility for their work."
These tips will help your child stay on top of their homework and tame their bulging binders and backpacks.
- Use an agenda. Set up your own with the child, if the school does not provide them. Include all assignments, incomplete work and due dates.
- Make homework a priority over other activities.
- Choose a regular time each day that's devoted to homework. Some children work best right after school, others manage better after dinner. Figure out what works best in your home.
- Choose a permanent location that has minimal distractions and make sure there is a complete set of desk supplies available.
- Teach your child how to break large assignments into smaller parts by using a check list with dates.
- Teach your child to check off completed work listed in the agenda in case they have missed something.
- Allowing frequent breaks for those who need to move. Use a timer or portions of completed work as guidelines.
- Being available for help, but don't hover.Model behavior by doing desk work yourself. Phone calls make you unavailable.
- Try not to interrupt a child who is on task.
- Reinforce the skills developed in Elementary School.
- Keep one binder for every four subjects (i.e. Two for core subjects and two for options).
- Keep an empty duo-tang in the binder to hand in notes when requested.
- Keep loose-leaf paper at the back of the binder.
- Store a small 3-hole punch in each binder. It makes inserting handouts easy - folded papers fall out.
- Underline titles and date each set of new notes.
- Teach your child a filing system, using main subject headings and separate files for each unit within that subject. Units are removed from binders when finished (including unit tests) and filed under the appropriate subject. e.g. SCIENCE (hanging file); Digestive System (file folder).
- Your child's locker size and the sheer quantity of paper received make it almost impossible to keep everything at school so consider providing your child with their own filing system at home.
- Keep all material accessible for end of term and final exams.
- Use coil notebooks for paper supply. They do not work well for handouts.
- Help with periodic binder checks to see that material is remaining current and that all parts of the system are working for your child.
Remember: It is your child's responsibility to do their own homework. It is our responsibility, as parents, to help them succeed by teaching them skills to manage the job. Children have to discover what works best for them, so acknowledging their input is important. What works for us may not work for them.
The Parent Program offers an 'Avoiding Homework Hassles' course. Call 403-290-5757 for more information.