Last week, we discussed setting the tone for homework for the younger grades and discussed the importance of learning routines 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 to 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 moves around after school 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 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 of 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 through 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 bedtime 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.
Here are a few other tips that it’s time to look for a private workspace for your kids:
- Homework includes a lot of reading, which requires focus and minimal interruptions;
- The child wants to create a focused workspace that includes necessary supplies;
- The 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 workspace
- Parent’s office– make room for an additional desk;
- Playroom– adapt so that there is a separate workstation 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 a 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 workstation
To cut down on distractions, keep your child’s workspace 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 of loose-leaf paper (easily accessible, yet preserved, in a folder)
- 10-20 sheets of plain white paper (easily accessible yet preserved in a folder)
- flashcards, 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 workstations 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.