Last week, we discussed setting the tone for homework for the younger grades and discussed the importance of learning routine and habits. When kids are in the older elementary grades, it’s time to continue to focus on habits and routine, but also on learning important study skills. As students get older, they’ll also start to have less review work and more individual learning at home to prepare for the next day’s class. Help your student by setting up an independent work area to help him learn to focus and concentrate now, so that he’ll have the skills he needs come middle and high school.
When should students do homework?
Many schools offer after school programs in sports, arts and sciences, making it so that kids no longer jump off the bus and come straight home. This time of movement and focus on favored skills offers your child the same time that he used to run around outside to exercise. With limited at home time, if your child moved around afterschool away from home, you’re set to have him do homework when he returns home. Of course, with 9-12 year olds busy schedules that includes after school activities, competitive sports, religious activities and more, what’s important now is much less what time you’re doing homework and that you’re continuing to work within a routine. Just like last week, we’re focusing on the healthy habits.
Some families are early risers and find that morning is a good time to do homework–which is fine as long as you are aware how much homework needs to be done each morning. Setting aside sometime in the afternoons or evenings is important so that in the morning your child isn’t last minute cramming for a test or rushing though math homework. Make sure that after school you take the time to go over the homework that is sent home and if it seems like more than your allotted morning time, you find time in the afternoon or evening before.
Most families will make time before or after dinner for homework, and you’ll notice that as your child gets older and needs more time for homework, his bed time might be pushed back a bit. Mornings become, in most families, a great time for last minute review.
Where should older elementary students do their homework?
Sometime during elementary school, kids will start to need their own space for homework. You can usually tell when it’s time when your child is distracted by his siblings and itches to move to a private place. Remember, he’s been learning all day with other kids around.
A few other tips that it’s time to look for private work space for your kids:
- homework includes a lot of reading, which requires focus and minimal interruptions;
- child wants to create a focused work space that includes necessary supplies;
- child needs a spot to place long-term projects
At this time (we did this at the beginning of 3rd grade because our son asked to move away from his brother who was doing homework), you’ll likely want to look for a spot to build a desk area. We made a space in his bedroom, but that doesn’t always work for families, based on the arranged space in your home.
Areas to consider for a private work space
- Parent’s office– make room for an additional desk;
- Playroom– adapt so that there is a separate work station for desks;
- Living room or dining room — many families multi-task furnishings creating a buffet area that also works as a desk or a create a desk space in their living or dining room
Julieverse reader, Tara, recommends this option for families who don’t have a lot of independent space:
As kids get older or if they are easily distracted, even if you don’t have room for desk in their room, you can use like a science fair display board to give them some privacy and deter some distractions…Kids can decorate the boards how they want them and you can even attach folders that hold extra notebook paper and Velcro strips that hold dry erase boards, etc.
What elementary students need at their work station
To cut down on distractions, keep your child’s work space free from clutter, but full of necessary supplies. Suggested supplies include:
- 10 sharpened pencils
- 2 pens (if your child’s teacher requests this)
- 2 highlighters
- 2 erasers
- age-appropriate scissors
- glue stick
- small box of crayons/colored pencils/markers
- 10-20 sheets loose leaf paper (easily accessible, yet preserved, in a folder)
- 10-20 sheets plain white paper (easily accessible, yet preserved in a folder)
- flash cards, if your school uses them or suggests them
- computer (if your child has homework on the computer and you are comfortable with your child being on the computer with minimal supervision)
- headphones (if your child has homework on the computer and there are multiple work stations in the same area)
- post-it notes
Have a question for a future post in the homework series? Let me know by completing this form.
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