Homework time can be one of the more frustrating times as a parent. In a time of a pandemic, these 5 simple ways to improve homework time can also help as you navigate distance learning with your children.
I used to be a private tutor, and I think that part of the reason I was in business was because parents wanted to ease some of the tension and exasperation that comes from homework. Further, there are ways children are wired differently that provide additional challenges during learning times.
Now that I have my own kids, I understand that, and I experience the frustration. It’s hard, but I want to provide strategies that can make it easier.
5 Simple Ways to Improve Homework Time
Give Kids a Little Down Time Before Beginning or Provide Active Short Breaks Throughout the Day
Studies have shown that kids have an easier time concentrating and do better work if they have time for active and creative play between work times.
When kids are go-go-go at school and then have to jump straight into homework, their time will be less productive. If you are struggling, this might be the only solution you need.
I understand it might be hard to implement. I grew up with the saying, “First we work, and then we play. That is how we do our day.” While this is good for the weekend and chore time, I would encourage you to try having downtime. Provide snack and play time before or during school work time.
According to Edutopia, “Depending on students’ ages and focus development, brain break frequency will vary. As a general rule, concentrated study of 10 to 15 minutes for elementary school and 20 to 30 minutes for middle and high school students calls for a three- to five-minute break.”
Based on my personal experience, I’d push it to the 15 for elementary and 30 for older. If they seem very focused and motivated, it can definitely be pushed longer.
Finding way to make learning fun and active also helps. This could include punching across the midline while working on spelling, shooting baskets every time a math fact is answered correctly or playing games like muffin tin learning or learning ladder.
When considering distance learning with your kids, I do understand you are tied a bit to the schedule, but try and find small windows get them moving. Even considering an exercise ball so they can bounce as they are listening to their class. Sometimes an elastic band around a chair leg can provide body input that is helpful, especially for kids with sensory needs or ADHD.
There is a psychology behind music.
When I was a camp counselor, we would always begin with the pump you up, crazy songs with motions that would provide energy.
Before we settled into the more serious talks, we would lead with the calmer music. We would see the kids settle down…even the hyper ones.
Our family has added soft piano music to homework time, and I have seen a change. This can be played throughout the home, in individual rooms or pumped through headphones.
There has been a noticeable change in the atmosphere in our home since I have added peaceful music at times.
This advice can tie into the advice for music, but you can also put your kids in Noise Cancelling Headphones (affiliate link) whose sole purpose is to eliminate noise.
These are great for kids who get easily distracted, have autism, sensory processing issues, ADHD or simply like things a little bit quieter.
If your kids are doing distance learning from home, you probably have this system in place already and can see the difference. It keeps your home quieter, also, so you can go about your work.
Eliminating noise distractions, we have found, makes a big difference in a child’s ability to concentrate.
Prepare an Organized Space
You can read more about how we set up a homework station for kids. Providing a child with an organized and tidy space where they know the materials they need helps set up your child for a successful homework experience.
Mess can be a huge distraction and make a child have a more cluttered mind and spirit. Further, if they need to continually get up and look for the things they need, it disrupts the learning process.
If they have weekly homework packets, provide a “go-to” place where they know their homework and materials are stored.
I encourage spaces that aren’t in the center of chaos. That said, I also want to urge parents to keep computers in a central location for a child’s online experience because of some of the dangers of online use.
Make Yourself Available
A parents’ job is busy. You might have multiple kids to navigate. Dishes need to be done. Dinner needs to get on the table. Don’t get me started about the laundry.
It’s also important to recognize the parents who are also working outside the home. This adds another layer or difficulty to making yourself available.
Being accessible doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything. However, when your child needs your help, quickly stop what you are doing to be able to aid in learning.
You want your kids to develop independence with their homework while also providing the assistance they might need.
I hope these 5 simple strategies to improve homework time help provide you with guidance to make homework and at home school work more manageable and a lot more successful.
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