Is homework time always a struggle? It seems like the last thing kids want to do is MORE schoolwork when the school day is over…BUT, that repeated practice at home will help them learn and continue to grow. The solution? Try these 5 helpful tips to improve homework time.
Have a System and Schedule a Time
With our busy lives of extra-curricular activities and planning events outside of our Zoom calls or work meetings, it’s hard to get a consistent schedule for anything these days. However, children thrive with structure. Take the time to determine a schedule when your child (or children) will do their homework. We suggest making this the same time each day. If possible, try your best to select a time before dinner. This way, after dinner, your child or children can enjoy some playtime or family time, celebrating and relaxing knowing that all their homework is done. Woo-hoo!
Darren is a first grader and finishes school at 2:45 p.m. He is usually home by 3:00 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Darren plays soccer after school. Practice is 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Darren’s mom decided to set Darren’s “homework time” for 5:30-6:30 p.m. The family eats dinner between 6:30-7:00 so this works out beautifully. When Darren gets home from soccer, he quickly changes, grabs a healthy snack, and sits down to do his homework. As the family has set this as “homework time,” if Darren finishes all of his homework early or doesn’t have a lot of homework, he gets to pick a learning activity of his choice for the remainder of the time.
Early Finisher? Have a List of Acceptable Learning Activities to Choose From
Once you’ve set your block of time for daily homework, create a list of choices for additional, acceptable learning activities. If your child finishes all of their homework early or doesn’t have any homework, they can fill this time with learning activities that will continue to help them learn, grow, and get smarter. PLUS, they will learn to adapt to the scheduled homework time, and you will be a SUPER parent teaching them study skills at a young age. Just imagine how much this will help them when they get into Middle School, High School, and College! Can we say “#NOTprocrastinating!”?
Here are a few of our favorite learning activity choices to fill in that extra time in the homework block. To help you save time, go to our website and check out our free, printable ‘Learning Activity Choices’ list that we’ve created just for parents like you and your scholars:
- Read a Book of Choice
- Read to Your Favorite Stuffed Animal
- Practice Your Sight Words
- Don’t have a sight word list or flashcards from your teacher? Grab our free list here. Or grab our flashcards here. We recommend practicing those critical sight words in a fun way with our favorite game: Say-It (shout the word out); Clap-It (shout the word as you clap it in it’s syllables); and Spell-It (say the word and then spell it, letter by letter).
- Complete a Luminous Minds Worksheet (or worksheets)
- Watch a Luminous Minds Instructional Video
- Write Your Spelling Words 3x Each. We like to use whiteboards
- No whiteboard? Paper is fine! Allow markers, crayons, or colored pencils–it just makes it more fun!
- Jumping Jack Spelling Practice
- Yep, you guessed it: spell each of your spelling words one letter at a time, doing a jumping jack for each letter. We love this one for high energy learners.
- Practice your Math Facts/Flashcards
- Free Write In Your Journal
- Make it fun! Allow your child (or children) to pick out a journal just for Learning Activity Choice Time.
Have a Clean, Organized, Clutter-Free, Consistent Spot for Homework Time
Alright, so you’ve got the set block of time for daily homework AND you made a list of acceptable Learning Activity Choices your scholar can choose from pending any extra time. Check you out, SUPER parent!! Next up, you need to designate a consistent spot in your home where homework will be completed. You don’t need to have a fancy desk, kitchen tables work just fine–so does laying on the carpet with a clipboard! Pick the spot that works best for you and your scholar. Once selected, stick with it. Keep it consistent, just like the daily block of time for homework.
The spot you choose needs to be clutter-free and distraction-free. Our little learners get easily distracted by shiny objects. We like to recommend removing any decorations, flowers, placemats, toys…you get the idea. Try your best to keep the space for homework completely clear. This way, you’ll have room for all of those school supplies, homework packets, worksheets, and even the computer…PLUS you’ve now created an environment conducive to learning. #Winning
Make It A Family Thing
Lead by example. During your designated homework block, complete adult learning or work activities. Take this time to read, work on the computer, respond to emails, complete a craft, or prep for dinner. Children copy what they see adults doing, especially adults they love and respect. Since they love and respect you the MOST, you will send them the message that “homework time” is serious, important, valuable, and everyone in the family takes this time to “work” in one way or another. Turn off the TV and keep the environment calm. Playing soft, instrumental music is a plus, but try to avoid any tunes with lyrics or YouTube favorites in the background. This will only distract your little one from their homework. If you have a big family and this would be too challenging, ask siblings or other family members to wear headphones if they are on electronics, listening to music, or watching TV during homework time. This will keep the environment as quiet and calm as possible.
Rewards And Creating A Sticker Chart
One way to create and establish a new habit or routine is to reward positive behavior. Children love rewards, and honestly, don’t we all? Isn’t our reward after a hard day’s work to get our paycheck? Or how about that glass of wine after a tough day?
One of our favorite rewards for scholars is to use a sticker chart. You can snag our sticker chart here. Here is how it works. Each day that your child successfully sits through homework time and completes all of their homework and/or learning activity choices with a positive attitude, they earn a sticker on their chart. When the chart is filled up, they get a prize. Make it fun by allowing your child (or children) to pick out their own stickers at the Dollar Tree or 99 Cent store. Place the sticker chart up in a place where the whole family can see (refrigerators are our favorite!). Each day your child follows the routine and procedures you have established for homework time, let them place a sticker on the chart. Another tip, select the reward for filling up the sticker chart ahead of time so they know what they are working toward. You’re also continuing to be a super parent by promoting the affirmation that, “hard work pays off.” Nice job! Here are some of our favorite rewards that LMI parents love to use:
- Mommy & Me or Daddy & Me Play Time (uninterrupted playtime with Mom or Dad)
- Visit the Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream Shop
- Small Toy or Prize
- Special Lunch Brought to School (drop off your child’s favorite restaurant food or fast food for them during their lunchtime at school).
- Extended Bedtime (20-30 extra minutes of “staying up” past bedtime)
- A New Book (Library trip works too!)
- Candy or Sweet Treat
- Playdate or Sleepover with Friend of Choice
Wait, there’s more! If you want us to celebrate your scholar on our Facebook or Instagram, take a picture of them with their sticker chart and send it to us. We’ll create a special post just for your little one! We love to celebrate hard work, effort, and dedication from our scholars!
Whew! You made it through this lengthy blog and now have a stack of tricks and tips to try. Let us know how they worked and which one was most effective. Happy Teaching!