This post comes from Ansonia Discovery Coordinator Karen Hicks. Karen talks about how important it is that children are supported in their learning at home by their parents and offers ideas on how you can help your child.
Students in Connecticut are already deep into their new school year. And the parents of those new students are probably still adjusting to the new routine of having their youngster do homework! I’m sure many of you were surprised when your Kindergarten child came home with a list of sight words to memorize or some math problems to practice at home.
Teachers begin setting the habit of doing homework from day one. This routine will serve students well once they get further into their school career. Having a place to do homework, some quiet time and the supplies for getting work done are all important parts of establishing a home routine.
Not only is your child’s teacher assigning your student homework for the sake of a good habit, but he or she is also asking the student to practice what they learned in school or perhaps evaluating if the student understood what was taught during class time. Homework in the earliest years usually offers that needed practice to acquire the new skill. So, recognizing sight words isn’t just being reinforced during the reading period at school, but also at other times of the day, including at home.
So, the question becomes, “How can I help my child with homework?”
* DON’T do your child’s homework. – You already know everything there is about first grade! Your child is the one who needs to practice the skills being taught.
* DON’T take over projects and reports. – It may not be perfect if you let your child do things on his own, but it is his own work and his own creativity that will be graded.
* DON’T hover over your child, nag or yell about homework. – I’m sure everyone has had someone hang over their shoulder while they were trying to get something done. I’ll bet that wasn’t your best work, because you felt pressure to get it done. Yelling and nagging only cause bad feelings and again, no one works at their best when they feel stressed.
* DON’T allow distractions during homework time. – Televisions, radios, cell phones, outside conversations can all be noisy distractions for young students. Try to find a quiet location away from screens and busy family traffic areas so that your student can concentrate on getting the work done and doing it correctly.
* Review your child’s homework once completed to check that your child followed directions and completed the assignment. You can check for mistakes, but let your child fix them.
*Set up a good work space away from TVs and games and provide the materials your child needs.
* Determine the best time to get homework done. 10 minutes before you have to be at a karate class, is not the best time to start homework. If you are busy with dinner preparations, it is probably going to be busy, loud and chaotic in the kitchen and your attention will be on the stove.
* Help your child find the best way to study. If using flash cards isn’t working, try making a memory game with the cards, create a hopscotch game with questions, or some other creative and fun way to help with those “boring” memory tasks.
*Let the teacher know if you had to offer a lot of help. Jot a note to the teacher that your child struggled with an assignment so that he or she knows that more in-class practice is necessary.
* Be nearby if your child needs to ask a question (or have someone else who can help be available).
I know it is hard not to do all the correcting and directing during homework time. We want our children to do their work correctly and to succeed in school. Here are some things that you can say to help direct children without telling them what they should be doing…
1. Do you understand what you are supposed to do?
2. Do you need help in understanding how to do this assignment?
3. Do you have everything you need?
4. Does this answer make sense to you?
5. If you are stuck on this question, let’s skip it for now and go back to it.
6. Offer praise for trying hard, doing good work, and completing first steps.
One final note to remember when working with young students…
Learning to read is a BIG CHALLENGE and it can be frustrating to many students. These frustrations often lead to a strong dislike of books and reading. Keep the joy of reading a story alive in your child by reading to them regularly. The time you spend reading together should be relaxing and enjoyable. No child hates spending special time together with their Mom, Dad or guardian and that story time will keep their interest in reading alive while they master the skills needed to read on their own.
Have a great school year!
If you would like to know more about ways to make homework fun, please contact Karen Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.