There has been a letter that a teacher sent to parents declaring that there would be not homework in her class this school year going around the internet. Many parents and teachers are praising this teacher for allowing her students to go home, be children, and enjoy family time. Wherever you stand on the issue of homework, it doesn't look like it will go away for most students...at least not anytime soon.
Most would agree that homework is given to help students sharpen their academic skills and to reinforce what was learned in class. The fact is, all homework is not made equal. What is sent home at the end of the day can range from review math facts that were learned last year to complex long term projects. The difficulty and depth of the homework also depends on how well your child is understanding the subject in which the homework is being given. In general, we can think of homework as a continuum from super easy to super challenging and everyone's continuum looks different.
If our students are going to have to do homework, at the very least we want them to be able to learn all they can from it. Below are some suggestions on how to help your child get the most out of their homework no matter where it falls on the continuum.
The too easy assignment...
Sometimes the homework comes home and your child is able to zoom through because it is something they already know by heart. This is great! If you feel like your child isn't getting very much from their easy homework then there are some ways that you can amp it up a bit!
If the homework is based on math facts, use the opportunity to increase speed. Make a copy and see if your child can beat their own time.
Have your child delve a little deeper in to the subject by writing down questions or things they would like to know. Help them research what interests them about the subject and/ or create a project that interests them.
Your child can create more challenging questions based on the homework assignment to try to stump family members. Think word problems, brain teasers, puzzles ect..
Have your child teach the concept that is presented in the homework assignment to a family member. Teaching is more challenging but also solidifies connections and guarantees understanding.
The too hard assignment...
Sometimes the homework comes home and your child becomes "stuck" almost immediately. It can be easy to become discouraged as the student or the parent, but there is still much to learn from the "too hard" homework assignment.
Super challenging homework can be a lesson in not giving up. Your child will have to learn how to solve problems and ask for help in order to see their assignment through. This is a BIG lesson to learn!
This gives you and your child an opportunity to see where their weak points are in the subject. With this information you may be able to make a plan with your child and their teacher to get them back on track.
Take the homework one problem at a time. Go to the internet to find tutorials and learn the subject from another perspective than was given in class.
Have your child write down points of confusion or questions to ask the teacher. Even for young children this is a great way to practice taking control of their learning.
The dull homework assignment...
I don't really know where this falls in the continuum but it definitely exists. When the assignment is helpful but soooo dull sometimes you need to spice it up to help your child get through the assignment.
Make a game out of it. For every right answer your child can move a game piece or collect a token in order to earn a prize. Math facts or other recall questions can be put on hopscotch or other outdoor games to make it fun.
Make it silly. Have your child read the questions in a silly accent or voice then answer in a different one. If doing reading homework have them use a different persona to explain their thinking.
Infuse snack in to homework time. I had a lot of friends in college who would place a piece of candy on every paragraph on a page and eat it once their eyes ran in to it. Place a part of your child's snack beside each question or paragraph to make it a little more interesting.
Want to learn more about how to make homework time less stressful and more productive? Check out this interview I did with Smart Social, and download my free PDF- 10 Ways to Make Homework Time Smoother.
How has homework been going in your household this school year?
Do you think homework should be a thing of the past?