How to Deal with all that Homework (For Parents)

Is your child overwhelmed with homework? If so, I bet you are too! I teach fourth grade, and some parents have let me know that homework is a daily torment. Here are some tips on what to do when you feel like homework is a chore that is getting out of control.

Do assigned written homework that is due tomorrow first.
To prepare to do homework, take out all the materials you'll need. Read the assignment sheet or notebook to see what subjects your child has homework in. Help your child take out books, notes, worksheets, paper, pencils, and erasers.

Time how long you work on one assignment.
In elementary schools, many teachers assign around an hour of homework. This varies by grade level. Ask your child's teacher about how long she expects homework to take for the average child in her class.

Divide and Conquer.
Divide the amount of time your child should be spending on homework by the number of assignments he or she has.
For example, assuming homework is supposed to take 40 to 45 minutes:
a. If there is homework in 1 subject, spend 20 minutes working. Take a 5-10 minute break. Then spend another 20 minutes working.
b. If there is homework in 2 subjects, spend 20 minutes working. Take a 5-10 minute break. Then spend 20 minutes working on the other subject.
c. If there is homework in 3 subjects, spend 15 minutes working. Take a 5-10 minute break. Then spend 15 minutes working on the second subject. Take another 5-10 minute break. Spend 15 minutes working on the third subject.
During the 20 minute work period, encourage your child to stay sitting and focus on reading directions and writing responses. No TV or side conversations are allowed during this time.

Take a Break.
After 20 minutes of sustained work, let your child relax however he or she prefers or move around during breaks. This is the time to get a tissue, water, snack, or chit chat.

Make Note.
Write a note on homework if it takes much longer than the expected amount of time. Your child's teacher might not realize how long homework takes for your child.

Study After Doing Written Homework.
After the 40 to 45 minutes of written homework, see if there are tests to help your child study for. Use the notes and books to help.

Read After Studying.
If there is not test coming up to study for, most schools expect children to read for 10 to 20 minutes every day after homework is finished. Ask your child's teacher what the expectations are for his or her grade level.

Review Corrected Work.
After reading, look over old assignments with an adult. Write questions together for your child's teacher to help with.

Catch up on Class Work.
If your child is missing work due to absence, ask if it can be made up over the weekend.

Celebrate Accomplishments!
If you stick to this new routine and it works, plan a special treat as a reward.
Good luck!

Final Thoughts:
Your child's teacher may have her own guidelines about how many minutes to spend on homework, time spent reading and studying, and whether homework can be made up on weekends. Ask your child's teacher what her expectations are.

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