Homework is the expected norm for all school age children. Heading into kindergarten with my youngest in September, I was well aware that times have changed and things would be very different. Skill building begins early and reinforcement is expected at home. As a teacher, I used to give out my fair share of homework and long term projects for students. Now, I am being shown the other side of the picture. Thank goodness neither of the boys have a lot of homework. JSL is still at the age that he thinks it is fun and with any luck it will stay that way for a while.
Recent homework made me think about a post I had written for an old project that is very relevant these days. I would love to hear your strategies for helping children to be successful with homework and working on independence.
Do you remember having homework in elementary school? I have to admit, I do not really remember anything until second or third grade. The reality is that children entering kindergarten will begin to have small amounts of homework. Most of the time, it will just be something small to instill good study skills, reading, or reinforce something learned that day.
When my oldest was in kindergarten, most nights he simply had to read. When finished reading books, they were asked to do “book reports” that had the kids drawing their favorite character or writing a simple one or two sentence summary on why they did or did not like a book. The rationale was to promote at-home reading and have 100 books completed by the end of the school year. This was no problem for my son, who completed that goal before the end of the winter.
In first grade, we had worksheets and weekly spelling homework. Some evenings, there would be math skill practice; other nights, reminders of grammar being taught. Spelling was the same almost each week. Monday night was grueling. They were asked to write a sentence for each of the new words. This was not hard, but my son did not want to be bothered. He would try to get away with writing the most simple sentences and not challenging himself. As a teacher, I knew he was able to do more and tried to push him. I once talked to his teacher about it. She agreed that asking NHL to do more was not too much to ask.
In addition to nightly homework, projects will also come your way. Whether a science project, book report, or diorama about a holiday, they will be coming to a house near you. While in first grade, my oldest son came home with the task of creating a Leprechaun trap. Oy! The wheels in my head immediately started to turn with ideas. Still, I stood back and asked my son for ideas. We went to Michael’s together and looked for items to decorate his box. When we got home, we put everything on the table, and he let me know how he envisioned the Leprechaun trap. There were a few times that I suggested a few changes for logistics, but it was all his. I wanted NHL’s teacher to know this was his project and not something that Mommy made. Trust me, as a teacher, we know when the projects are done by the student and/or other adults at home. We see writing each day, so when something completely different comes in, it will be noted. Finding just the right balance to help your child, while giving them the chance to work on their own can be tricky.
How do you assist your school aged child with homework/projects while also allowing them to do their own work?
Disclosure: Parts of this post were previously published on a project I worked on. The text is mostly the same, but I placed a new introduction to go along with a topic that continues to be important for families.