I have a repetitive nightmare. It goes something like this….
“Miss McEwan….Where is your homework? Miss McEwan…..”
My face flushes. Heart pounds. Throat starts squeezing shut…
Then, I wake up. Oh, thank goodness.
I’ve done my homework.
I ended up graduating both from high school and college. Part of my professional life before and after I had children was as an academic tutor. Parents would hire me to do everything from helping with homework, study for tests or mostly, to sit down next to their child and give them a break. I specialized in helping kids with ADHD — they were always my little, fidgety favorites.
Some kids go through homework panic everyday. If they have struggled in the past, they can get what can be described as PTSD from the trauma of forgetting to do homework or struggling to complete it.
Here Are Basic Homework Tips From An Ex-Tutor:
1. Don’t ever rely on human memory: Using a calendar-style planner is critical. From the time they can write, they should be putting their assignments into a planner appropriate for their age. Having the teacher check the planner before leaving school and the parent checking off the assignments is a routine that has to be in place — sometimes through high school — before the child can be considered “independent with homework”. Some teachers, thankfully, have their homework assignments posted on the school website for double checking.
2. Routine. Routine. Routine.: Same desk, same chair (yoga balls are great for wigglers), same scenery…..everyday. Day after day. The time of day can vary from kid to kid, but I have observed that the best time to start is RIGHT after school.
“Do what you need to do before doing what you want to do” is a principle that kids will use forever.
Snacks, music, standing, sitting—whatever floats their boat.
3. Correction and help: It’s important to understand what the ultimate goal of homework is: competency to perform on tests, to complete assignments in a timely fashion, to follow an authority figure’s direction, etc. Our job is to monitor and assist, not do and make perfect.
If they are struggling at home understanding a particular concept, you as their parent are the only one who witnesses it! The teacher has no information about how your child is actually doing. They are getting an accurate view of how good a teacher you are, but you are not the one in school!
Also, C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E with teachers. I still like the old-fashioned written notes that the child delivers to the teacher. They know that you are talking to their teacher. By the way, write these notes in handwriting your child can read or read the note to them so they are in the loop. Who wants to be talked about behind their back?
Another strategy that has always worked for both my tutored students and my children has to do with something so simple, yet so important.
4. Forgetting to bring the completed homework to school and turning it in. Here is the answer to a question that I asked my son Paul when he was in 2nd or 3rd grade:
“What do you think happens to homework when you don’t put it in your backpack right after you do it?” (The answer I had in my head was “I’ll forget to turn it in.” Paul, being Paul, had a very different, yet much more effective thinking strategy…..)
“It jumps up and flies away to Africa! I better hurry up! It looks like it’s starting to fly!”
“Put it in there quick! Whew! That was a close one.”
PSA: Are you finished with your homework? Please, prevent random homework flying through the skies of your neighborhood and over our oceans. Be responsible. Put it in your backpack. Save our skies …. and your grades.
5. Using the “string tied around their finger” method: Also, placing a visual reminder on their backpack, like a colored tag or backpack decoration that signals them to turn it in. It can literally say, “Turn homework in, Kathy!” or just function as a bright visual cue.
Homework will always be in their lives, in the form of school work or paperwork as an adult. I hope these tips help your child escape some of the nightmares that have plagued me.
Excuse me while I go check my planner and see if their is an assignment due tomorrow……
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