Two Perspectives – One Homework Blog…

Six simple tips to make homework time less stressful.

My name is Leslie Newland and I am the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) Program Manager at AYS, Inc. ~ I am also an AYS parent. My two boys attend the AYS program at the Blue and Gold Academy in Decatur Township.

I am excited about the unveiling of AYS’ new website and I am glad to be a part of the new blog feature.  Though please note, I am a newbie at this blog thing…

So, just the other day, while browsing through Facebook, I literally laughed out loud when I saw my friend’s post – “Fifth grade and second grade homework might just be the death of me and my children…”

If you are a parent, you know, sometimes homework with our children can be a dreaded thing.

It’s funny, as a parent of two active, wonderful young boys, homework time at my house can mean frustration, screaming, and at times even tears (for me AND my children).  HOWEVER, as the former 21st CCLC site-coordinator at the BGA, homework time with 100 plus first through sixth graders was almost a piece of cake.

So, how could I not handle homework with my own two children, but could handle it with the AYS participants?

I’d say it’s all in the training we receive.  As a youth worker, I gained knowledge and skills in regards to structuring successful homework time.  Not quoting any specific article, or any specific professional development opportunity, I’ve found the following six general themes helpful to consider when doing homework with children (whether it’s one or one hundred)!

  1. Routine – Establish an after-school routine and stick with it.  Have a set time and a set place where homework happens.

  2. Setting – Designate a comfortable place, conducive to learning with limited interruptions from outside sources.  Soft music or other quiet background noise can help keep your child focus.

  3. Supplies – Make sure you have plenty of appropriate supplies handy and ready to go.  This can include things like sharpened pencils, scissors, extra paper, etc.

  4. Consistency – Keep the routine and setting consistent. However, do remember you must be willing to be flexible sometimes on some things within the set guidelines – for example, my boys do their homework in their rooms – sometimes it’s at the desk, sometimes it’s on the floor.

  5. Non-Verbal Ways to Communicate – As mentioned, homework at my house can sometimes turn into a shouting match between the boys and me. It helped me tremendously, when I learned about non-verbal ways to communicate during homework time.  On a large scale at program at my former AYS program, we used a red, yellow and green system.  If you were on task and working well, a green item was placed in front of you encouraging you to keep going. You received a yellow item when you needed to slow down, think about your actions, refocus and get back on task.  Red meant to stop what you are doing, time to refocus and get on track.  At home, the boys and I have a smiley system we use.  Other options might be a little fancy trophy that can be bought or homemade, a sticker system, or anything else you can think of that will provide feedback to your child without having to get into a distracting discussion.

  6. Stay Open-Minded and Choose Your Battles – Be consistent, but be flexible.  Recognize your child’s efforts and be willing to compromise when needed.  My youngest is not very neat and he sometimes finishes his assignments messier than I think he should – but that said, if I “fight” with him over every letter and number, our homework session gets that much louder and that much more frustrating for all.

Now don’t get me wrong, even after the training and the experience, sometimes at my house homework time is still stressful.  But having techniques to help all involved is tremendous AND as I mentioned when I started this blog, I am an AYS parent – so lucky for me, homework is DONE before my children come home.  Each evening, I take a quiet few minutes to review their work, sign their homework agendas, and another few minutes to talk about their homework with them and assisting in any needed corrections.  Then, off we go to the other challenging parenting tasks we have, like “What’s for dinner?”