Many younger kids actually look forward to getting homework; it’s a rite of passage, an entry to being “big.” And when children are young, their homework should never overwhelm. Homework for young children should do the following, which will each be focused on in upcoming entries of the Julieverse Homework Help series:
- Teach routine, time management, and organization skills
- Reinforce concepts learned in school (yes, this means some homework will be busy-work)
- Enhance a home-school connection
When should a child do his homework?
Every family routine is different, but what’s important here is that you have a routine. Most children, after sitting in the classroom for several hours, need time to move and snack after school lets out, so I recommend at least 30 minutes of playtime before starting homework. Some families find that the children do their homework best in the morning after eating breakfast and getting ready for school. Others prefer doing homework while cooking dinner. What’s important is that a family sets a routine “homework time.”
As kids get older and homework takes more time, you’ll find your routine changes, but for children in grades K-3, set aside a specific 20-45 minutes for homework each day and keep that time consistent.
Where should younger elementary kids do their homework?
For kids in grades Kindergarten through second or third grade, I recommend homework is done in a location near the adult who is home. Many families have their children do homework at the kitchen table or kitchen counter while Mom or Dad is preparing dinner. Another spot is next to an adult at a desk while she or he checks email, giving the idea that it’s quiet, focus time.
At this young age, children will need reminders to focus and continue working and may need assistance understanding instructions or reading text. Having your child in a separate space makes it far easier for him to be distracted, and having to come to you to ask questions makes it more difficult for him to regain his focus once he returns to his homework and sits down again.
A word about distractions
I’ve mentioned distractions quite a bit, haven’t I? Children this age, as we all know, are easily distracted. Flashing lights, shiny objects… even a pencil sharpener, is a great distractions. As caregivers, it’s our responsibility to help to remove as many distractions as possible. Set the tone for homework time by enforcing quiet time throughout the house. In creating quiet time for other members of the family, they, too, will learn that homework time is a time to focus.
Ideas for siblings during homework time include coloring time, quiet reading, building, and other independent activities.
Create a homework station
While most young children are too young to work at their own desk, having a homework station or supply for each child is a fabulous idea that will help your child to focus on the task without having to get up and get the items he has forgotten. Angela from Untrained Housewife created a personalized homework or school supply station for each of her children that they can pull out when they’re doing school work.
Inside your homework station should be:
- crayons or colored pencils
- sharpened pencils
- flashcards (if used by the school)
- a child’s/student dictionary
- glue stick
- child-sized scissors
- hand-held pencil sharpener
Have a question for a future post in the homework series? Let me know by completing this form.