Tips, Ideas & Advice: Homework!

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Welcome back to another edition of Tips, Ideas & Advice! This is now a fortnightly series, so tune in every two weeks.

The question we’re answering this week comes from RoryBore of Time Out For Mom, who asked:

I would love some tips on how to make helping the kids with homework a more bonding and less stressful (and constant nagging) experience. Any advice, moms?

This topic proved difficult – I had more moms telling me they NEED the advice, rather than give it. I did have a couple of great responses though, so I hope this helps.

Katie of Your Girls + Boys (@euregirlsandboy):

I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader, which makes me feel so old, but at least I’m used to dealing with the homework at this point. Something that helped me a lot was a reminder from the 5th grade teachers this year that all parents need to remember that homework needs to be the child’s own work.

They pointed out that some parents help a little too much with homework – so remember to point out to the child that they should have learned these concepts at school, so they should know how to do the homework. If they didn’t understand the concept, the teacher needs to know that. If the parent gives them the right answers, the teacher doesn’t know the child doesn’t understand. I check my girls’ homework and let them talk it through with me if they need to, but I never tell them answers. It’s much less stressful for us this way than it used to be when I would try to sit with them the whole time.

Elena of C.Mom and Just.Be.Enough (@ciaomom/ @justbeenough):

Give your child a snack first when they come home, before starting homework. This is a great time to catch up on their day. Then, do homework instead of waiting until later in the evening.

Set up a consistent place to do homework and a routine to make sure that the work goes into the backpack when it is finished.

Homework is meant to be done by your child. If the teacher wanted to know what you can do in math, it would be called “parent work.”

Homework is practice. It should not be a struggle. If something is taking a child a long time and they are struggling with it, either help them by modeling what “you would do if you had to complete it” or do not make them finish it–and of course, let their teacher know.

Be near your child when they are doing homework. Close enough that you can monitor what they are doing but far enough away that they can feel independent.

Review what your child did on their homework, and turn it into a detective game.  For example, if the assignment was to write sentences for spelling or to do math problems, tell them you see “x” number of mistakes (misspellings, etc…) and see if they can find them without you doing it for them.

Rory, I do hope this helps, good luck!

Next week’s question comes from Mel of A Wide Line…., who asked:

What are the best developmental toys for babies/toddlers of all ages?

Any tips, ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Please email your tips, ideas and advice, or question/ topic you want me to highlight, by Friday, November 4, 10.00 p.m. (EST) to: mamawantsthis{@}gmail{.}com . Do note that I will not include tips, ideas and advice that are in comments.

Do you have any homework tips to add?

Linking up with lovelinks #28.

Alison

Alison

Alison

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  • October 25, 2011 Ann

    What tips you DID get were terrific! As for toddler toys – I’m completely out of the loop! My grand babies are no longer babies.

    However, as Nana (and not mama) It gave me great joy to give them very noisy toys!
    Ann recently wrote…Pickled Shrimp – A Guest Post!My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 RoryBore

    actually – these tips do help a lot! My normal routine was to have him do his homework as soon as he arrived home, but this week, I was watching another child, so he had about 1/2 hour until their parent came to get them. Now that I think about it, he did seem to do a lot better that night. I thought it was just a one time thing, but perhaps it would be best to make this the norm.
    And I do normally have him do it at our kitchen table, while I am cooking supper, so that I can be near should he need some help.
    Also, good tip about not letting them continue struggling. Next time we are approaching the hour mark…I will have him put the work away, and let the teacher know there was some difficulty.
    Thanks so much Alison, Katie and Elena!
    RoryBore recently wrote…The Night ShiftMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Jamie

    These are great! It’s such a child-specific chore but having an arsenal of ideas for the time comes is so helpful
    Jamie recently wrote…babies, babies, everywhere!My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Galit Breen

    Such great tips, Alison and yes- such a common problem!
    Galit Breen recently wrote…Driving StoriesMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Melissa

    Thanks for featuring my question, Alison! With the holidays looming, it will be great to have some guidance on what to buy (and to ask others to buy) for my son. Can’t wait to tune in next week and read the ideas! Thanks!
    Melissa recently wrote…Quinn’s Weekend Adventures: Aloha, Baby – Part 2My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 My Inner Chick

    –Mama, A,

    I work for the Duluth Schools & this advice carries over to the students there, as well.

    Great tips !! :))
    My Inner Chick recently wrote…Answering Your Questions Vlog StyleMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 By Word of Mouth Musings

    When my kids were still in the school system, the homework was crazy.
    Now if my kids have homework, i go and look in the mirror and ask ‘ what is wrong with you?’ and have a glass of wine 😉
    By Word of Mouth Musings recently wrote…Howlerific Halloween – Molly CampbellMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Elaine

    These are GREAT homework tips! I try not to “do” B’s homework for him although it can be SO tempting. 😉

  • October 25, 2011 Kimberly

    All great tips! Learning how to not “do” the homework for them is a big struggle. 😉
    Kimberly recently wrote…Desperate Housewives: Jersey StyleMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Jessica

    My daughter loves doing homework but when we have struggles I let daddy take over. Problem solved.
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  • October 25, 2011 Theresa Torres

    Yes, it’s really a struggle and quite tempting to do our kids’ homework for them. I think it’s because we want to impress and we want them to get good marks and we don’t often realize we’re not really helping them.
    My youngest just started his high school year and I finally decided to let him do it all on his own and just come to me for some advice.
    Thanks for sharing these great tips.
    Theresa Torres recently wrote…Halloween by the NumbersMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 deborah l quinn

    I think the half-hour or so of “unwinding” is key. After all, when we get home from work or errands or whatever, do we want to rush right into the next task? (That’s why cooking dinner is such a pain, right?) So a little down time of whatever – legos, screens, flopping on the couch and pulling at your loose threads, whatever works. Then snack-and-homework, usually while I’m around but “busy” — doing my own email, cooking dinner, folding laundry– something that prevents me from hanging over their shoulders but also keeps me available to head off potential meltdowns. Doesn’t ALWAYS work (does anything ALWAYS work?) but works most of the time, which is good enough for me… !
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  • October 25, 2011 Kiddothings

    I’ll be popping in on this post again when my time comes in about 3 years. Great tips!
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  • October 25, 2011 Lady Jennie

    These are good tips. Homework is a heavy burden in France. Next year my middle child will be headed over to the land of daily homework so that makes 2.
    Lady Jennie recently wrote…Who’s the Bigger Idiot?My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Katie E.

    I’m very happy to be featured on your blog, Alison! Homework can be so stressful – for kids and parents – so I hope my tips help someone 🙂
    Katie E. recently wrote…Monday Listicles: Ten Must Haves for New MomsMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Christine

    Ack! I can’t believe I missed this post the first time. Glad I linked up to lovelinks to find it. These are all great tips from very smart, sane women. The thing that worked for me? Making my husband deal with it. I needed a break. I would probably do better now but it’s going fine so I’m off the hook.
    Christine recently wrote…Halloween, Part I: Setting the Scene.My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Missy

    I’m (mostly) one of those hard core moms who makes my child do her homework completely on her own. It’s her job as a child. That being said, if she gets totally stuck on something I’ll ask her questions or talk her through it, without giving her the answer.
    Missy recently wrote…Road Closed – The StoryMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Vinobaby

    Great tips–thanks to all! Homework is our LEAST favorite time of the day. I’ll make sure to reread these later right before it’s time to crack open the books & worksheets.
    Vinobaby recently wrote…22 Things I HAVE Done { + Link-up}My Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Kyla

    I have no advice. Just a comment… I am scared of homework days.
    Kyla recently wrote…Sweet DreamsMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Erica M

    I’m glad there are school districts in the U.S. paying attention to studies that are advocating the elimination of homework from the curriculum. My kids have very little. Maybe it was because I screamed so loudly years ago when it was hours and hours’ worth?
    Erica M recently wrote…lovelinks #28 is open: lovelinks virgins editionMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Jennifer Probst

    Wow, this is such great and practical advice. My son is in 1st grade so I am just starting the homework stuff, but when both kids are in full time school I am scared! Schedule, a place, a bribe, etc. But most of all, I need to remind myself it’s not parent work – great reminders!
    Jennifer Probst recently wrote…THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SAY…WHAT THE H—? by Jennifer ProbstMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Elena

    I am bookmarking these tips because we haven’t gotten to that staget yet…but I loved a lot of the advice and I’ll need it soon – I’m sure!

  • October 25, 2011 Shell

    I hate homework. It really should be something kids can do with very little help and that is not what my oldest’s teacher sends home.
    Shell recently wrote…A Motherbitch StoryMy Profile

  • October 25, 2011 Natalie

    These are great tips! I am really dreading the day when I have to deal with homework!
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  • October 26, 2011 Mirjam

    Great tips Alison,
    I love the detective game, I’m going to add that one to our routine.
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  • October 26, 2011 Christi

    These are some great tips! We’ve discovered a strategy that works well for us: we set aside 45 minutes every school night for homework. Even if she doesn’t have homework, or doesn’t have that much, we can still fill the time with spelling practice, flash cards, a word of the day game, etc – anything educational. That way, the time is always worked into the schedule and she knows to expect it, so we don’t have to argue about homework time.
    Christi recently wrote…Tot in Tow: Tips For Successful Family TravelMy Profile

  • October 26, 2011 Brittany {Mommy Words}

    I’m going to have to bookmark this or print or something for when we need it. No homework yet but we do set aside 30 minutes every night to do workbooks and educational type stuff while the baby jumps all over us. Just to get in the habit 🙂
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  • October 26, 2011 Rach (DonutsMama)

    You know I’m saving all these tips for when Donut is a bit older. Great getting wisdom from other parents.
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  • October 26, 2011 Kid Id

    These are really great tips and very helpful to keep in mind as my kids get older!
    Kid Id recently wrote…How to Amuse Your Children with Math and ScienceMy Profile

  • October 26, 2011 Leighann

    Great advice!!
    I agree with having a snack and then tackling it… but time will tell, mine is only 18 months.
    Leighann recently wrote…22 Things I Have DoneMy Profile

  • October 26, 2011 Mama Track

    These sound great–I’m sure I’ll be back to check them out in a few years. Thanks, Alison!
    Mama Track recently wrote…A Place to SleepMy Profile

  • October 26, 2011 Just Jennifer

    Those 2 were really good tips. Just this year, with a 6th grader and a kinder, have I finally learned how to try and make homework time less stressful. Somehow I found my patience and a healthy dose of admiration for the learning process, I guess. All I know is, even though have an ADD child, things are flowing pretty nicely so far this school year.
    Just Jennifer recently wrote…LovelinksMy Profile

  • October 26, 2011 Cookie's Mom

    This is such a great feature, Alison. I don’t have homework issues yet – kind of dreading all of that, actually. I sent you an email with some ideas around developmental toys. I’ll be interested to see what everyone comes up with!
    Cookie’s Mom recently wrote…Wordy Wednesday: Collage FunMy Profile

  • October 27, 2011 Mommy2¢

    My oldest is in 1st grade so we’re just now getting a little taste of homework; but this was all great advice that I’m going to keep in mind once it really starts to pick up. 🙂
    Mommy2¢ recently wrote…Mommy2¢ Tips for Soon-To-Be New Moms!My Profile

  • October 27, 2011 Dwija {House Unseen}

    Such good tips! Kids always flourish more when we give them the space to do so…but it sometimes hard not to hover when we just want so badly to HELP. Thanks for the great advice 🙂
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  • October 27, 2011 A Morning Grouch

    As a teacher, I love these tips that you have shared! The only other one I’d add is having them write something down for each one, even if they aren’t sure of their answer, they can write a best guess, or the beginning thoughts or steps. Once they get to the high school level this is important, since it will let the teacher see what they can do/where they went wrong – and shows that they attempted to do something.

  • October 27, 2011 XLMIC

    I’ve been in the homework trenches for 15+ years now… you’ve gotten great tips. One thing I would add… at a certain point, it is up to the child to use the tools and habits you have helped work on. Providing a space and the time are things we can do, but the desire and motivation really comes from within.
    XLMIC recently wrote…Night Rider…with video 🙂My Profile

  • October 27, 2011 Laura

    These look like great tips. As a teacher, these are things I’m telling my students’ parents when they come to me panicked and unsure what to do with their kids. I remember having homework anxiety about math. Try as he might, my dad couldn’t get me to understand, and it resulted in many nights of tears at the kitchen table. I’ll do anything to avoid that with my own kids.
    Laura recently wrote…Because If You Didn’t Laugh At It, It’d Depress The Hell Out Of YouMy Profile

  • October 27, 2011 Sandy

    Awesome post! I used to cringe at homework time. Now I let the Little Man do some when he comes home and finish the rest after supper.

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