No Sleep, No Problem:How to Help Kids Do Their Homework
When I taught Sunday School my students and parents quickly became accustomed to our routine. The kids knew what was expected of them, and parents could read the blog posts in the Sunday School newsletter, and hear about what was happening in our program. While the blogs were not the same as school assignments, they were part of the same daily routine.
Then, we discovered a secret, something my students and parents never knew before: I included activity logs for each student. We didn’t read the blogs but we checked on the activity logs, and they were filled with quick notes every day. Parents kept track of the timestamps of each activity and each student wrote out whether they got homework done, if they did their reading, and if they did their weekly exercise.
Now, we print and distribute activity logs at the beginning of each school year and we create an email list that parents and teachers can look at throughout the year. It is a help to have accountability on a daily basis. Even though I have more students than I would like to have at our church camp each summer, we keep a log of how many days we are still on the camp. This year I had 76 students and 28 days, and I write that each student had 75 percent of their homework done.
What about homework? Why is this important?
In a world where the skill of remembering information is incredibly important, it is very difficult for your students to perform homework on a regular basis. Most work books, homework plans, and study guides tell you what is required, but parents don’t know when to expect the homework or what they should do to help the kids, if anything. All parents need help finding new and creative ways to help their kids succeed at homework. And since technology has allowed us to be in constant communication with our students, it is also the perfect way to help kids do their homework.
The reason this works so well is that students know when to do what they need to do, they have confidence that they will do it right, and parents are happy that their kids are getting the information they need, they know that they are on track, and the kids have found creative ways to do their homework.
A nightly homework ritual is especially important for low to middle school students who are just entering high school and are adjusting to the next level of school.
As my student Becky once said to me, “Debbie, this homework needs to be like showing up to gym so it comes out right every time and all of it is right!”
When you first have students who will not do homework, it can be very stressful for all of you. I would not be surprised if your kids find this when they are preparing for college and start wondering how good they are at school. That is how you know it is time to start a nightly homework ritual.
Remember that it is important to honor your students’ power of time in a way that shows them how much they matter. Even if they are reluctant to do homework and will not help, there is a power you can give them by doing it together. Find out how much homework a student’s special interests require, and organize a schedule where your students can get their homework done.
As you are planning your routine, consider whether or not you like the thing you are doing. For example, you may choose to count activities one day a week and do homework on the other days. You could choose to include an hour each night of two or three activities (sports practices, Saturdays or Sundays, etc.)
Be careful to balance some homework time into your night. Perhaps kids will do 40 minutes of homework every night but still have an hour for homework on Saturday. In addition, if you have a lot of kids or the holidays can disrupt your routine, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even school holidays, look at the calendar and realize that this is not all that you will need to do.
No matter your routine, try to continue finding ways to improve the way your children are doing their homework. You can’t do the homework or make sure all of the kids know it until you have made a commitment to help them.