Dear LA Teacher,
Last year I had an awful time motivating my fourth grader to do his homework. What can I do before school starts to avoid this problem?
Dear Homework Migraine,
On day one you need to establish that homework needs to be done. Explain to your child that school and the work taken from school is his full time job just like your job—chemist, pharmacist, or screenplay writer.
To monitor your student’s homework invest in a “homework planner” to record daily homework assignments. Check with your child’s school prior to the purchase of this plan book because many schools provide them. When your son or daughter comes home from school, check her plan book. If nothing is written down, return to school the next day and introduce the book to his teachers letting them know you are monitoring your child’s behavior. That will get their attention and will send an important message to your kid—Mom cares and means business.
You can take the homework planner concept a step further by modeling the behavior. Show your planner to your child and discuss with him how you keep your schedule and projects in order and presented on time.
Help your child with organization issues. Students need to learn how to organize their work into subject matter, due dates, and long term projects. Show your child how to divide her classes into different colored folders—red for English, blue for Math, or green for History. The inside pockets of the folder can organize work in progress, completed assignments, and handouts.
When your child comes home from school he should have a place where he completes his assigned work. This should be a quiet well-lit spot where he can effectively work on his homework. You should check his assignments very closely at first. Once he has established trust with a chain of homework successes you can relax the scrutiny, but make sure you spot check every now and then.
The next morning ask your child a few key questions before she goes to school. “Did you complete all your homework last night?” If the answer is yes, ask, “What assignments will be turned in?” (You can’t imagine the number of students who do their homework and then forget to turn it in.) Ask to see the work, sign it, and thank your child for doing a conscientious job. If the answer is no, visit the school and check with your child’s teachers. Kids get homework everyday, especially in grades 4 through 12.
Homework is a student’s job like a dentist’s task is to pull teeth or a lawyer’s job is to write a deposition. As the parent of a student your job is to teach that child responsibility and how to complete tasks. You are his manager making sure all the employees are doing their work to the best of their ability. Once your child shows competency, you can step aside, but make sure you spot check every now and then so your child remembers the boss is never too far away.
The Legend of Koolura is about school and how kids think. You and your children will enjoy this fantasy together with hours of reading fun.