HOMEWORK! This word will have an effect on you: either a positive one or a negative one. It will often depend on your own personal experiences and learning styles, including the level of importance that your family gave education as you were growing up. Nevertheless, homework is something that has to be reckoned with and accepted as a part of a child’s life from kindergarten all the way through college and perhaps graduate school.
If a child has been raised in a family that has valued education and has spent time reading to their children, practiced reading, writing, and doing math with their children, played board games and taught important learning concepts, then your child when first going to school will probably see homework as “fun work”, (as my friend Kathie used to call it). Well, this was the notion that I had in my head when I sent my sons to school. My sons will be excited about doing homework! When I had taught before giving birth to my sons, this seemed to be the case. So, of course it would be true for my sons, as well. I had prepared my sons adequately for school, reading and writing with them; playing learning games and teaching important concepts. Of course, they were going to LOVE doing their homework.
The bombshell hit when the boys came home the first week of school. They dashed up to the house from the bus and asked for a quick snack. Then they were ready to explode with unleashed energy before they could get to the backyard to run and play. There was no time to talk about their day at school. It was very clear to me that this was not the time to tackle homework. These boys needed a break from sitting in desks and working all day. Homework would need to take a backseat to a little playtime. Two athletic, active boys needed a break before undertaking their homework assignments. And, that ended up being our pattern.
Now, there are many other children who work differently. They come home, have a snack and want to do their homework immediately so that they will have it completed. Then they can have the rest of their afternoon and evening free to play and do other activities. It all depends on you, your schedule, and your child’s make-up as to when you schedule your homework time.
Of course, thrown into all of this mix, is after school activities, such as chess class, soccer practice, piano lessons, church. When you have afternoon or evening activities, your kids have a limitation of time and have a specific time window when homework has to be done. That is when a schedule comes in handy. Kids know that they are getting to go to these special activities, and so they have to get their homework completed, so there is a pay-off. At some schools teachers help for days like these by giving homework packets that are due on Friday, so that kids can “double-up” on their homework on another night if one evening is super busy.
One thing that is important to do to help homework time be successful is to have all of the homework supplies that will be needed handy so that the kids can easily get the items that they will need. It is also helpful to have a workspace where your kids can do their work, where you can easily sit and supervise and help them. It is beneficial for the parents to have a place where they can keep a copy of the teacher’s directions for weekly homework assignments. That might be the refrigerator or a special bulletin board. It is also necessary to have a calendar where you circle and write down when the assignments are due back at school, to make sure your child gets his or her assignments back to school on time. You might want to start a folder that you keep for each child with assignments for the week or for the month that you and your child will check daily.
Now, as you begin the homework process, it is significant to know your child’s learning style. There are three learning styles. There are visual learners. There are auditory learners, and there are tactile/kinesthetic learners.
Carrie Kitzmiller in her article “Young Child Learning Style Assessment” tells us some of the differences of each learning style.
Visual Learners- learn through seeing. They think in pictures. They prefer books with pictures. They enjoy drawing and coloring and like to do jigsaw puzzles. They notice details. They remember people’s faces more than their names. They like brightly colored pictures, maps, graphs, and charts.
Auditory Learners- learn through listening and hearing information. They hum and sing while performing a task or concentrating. They easily memorize song lyrics and rhymes or poetry. They enjoy listening to a book read aloud. They have a good sense of rhythm. They talk a lot.
Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners-learn by touching, moving, and doing. They may have trouble keeping their hands to themselves. They like pop-up books with textured pages. They enjoy building and crafting with clay and building toys. They like to take things apart and see how they work. They get impatient while listening to directions, wanting to jump right in. They fidget, and need to get up and move when sitting for a long time.
The important thing for you to realize as you begin homework with your child is that your child has a learning style and that you have a learning style. They may not be the same. You may try working with your child using strategies of your learning style while he has a completely different learning style. Pandemonium! Homework is a disaster!
Point number 1. You have to realize what your child’s learning style is and you have to work with him or her using strategies of his style.
Point number 2. You may have 2 or more children in the family. They may all have different learning styles. So, you may have to work with them separately with different learning style strategies, that may even be different from your learning style.
An example may be that I need to work with Johnny with flashcards to learn his spelling words, because he is a visual learner. But, Sally is an auditory learner, so she needs to learn her spelling words by putting them into rhymes or songs that she makes up to help her remember her words. Whereas, Leon is a tactile learner so he spells the words with letter cards, moving the letter cards around to make the words that you ask him to spell.
Another thing to mention is that one child may be happy sitting down doing her homework, while her brother needs to stand up and be moving to do his homework. Some children need breaks when doing their homework, especially if it involves writing. They may need to tell you the sentence and then you write it down on a wipe off-board so that they can copy it. Or you may need to write out the spelling words on note cards to help them study the words for the week. Homework for kids means Homework for mom and dad, too.
Homework can become “fun work” when you :
- Choose the right time to do it
- Have all of the supplies needed
- Have a special place to do your work
- Know your child’s learning style and your’s as well
The very last most important point to remember. This comes from being a teacher for 25 years. KIDS NEED TO PUT THEIR HOMEWORK PAPER IN THEIR BACKPACK RIGHT AFTER THEY HAVE COMPLETED IT. This way their work will get to their teacher the very next day and will not be late. Parents- kids will really need your help in remembering to do this each and everyday. Please remind them to do it. This needs to be their responsibility.
As I think of each and every one of the students that I have taught over 25 years, I am reminded that each one of them was different. Each one of them was special and uniquely made. God’s Word tells us in Psalm 139:1-6, 13-14
“O Lord, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; and perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely Lord. You hem me in- behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain…For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful I know that full well.”
I have included some resources that you might find beneficial.
May God keep you in the palm of His hand.