Homework Help, Organization Tips for Kids
If getting your child to do homework is like pulling teeth, if he or she is disorganized, loses papers and misplaces things, if you have more than one child, and homework is being done all over the house, then maybe the problem is your lack of organization.
Experts recommend that there be a designated space and time in the house to do homework, that supplies be kept together in the same place and that wherever children work should be within earshot of a parent.
Sending Junior off to do his homework and checking in periodically to see if he’s working isn’t the answer. A lot of kids simply don’t work well alone, so working in or near the kitchen while dinner is being prepared often works. Remember, unless you are homeschooling, your kids are in a room with a teacher and other children learning. Even when they work independently, someone is always in the room to answer questions, provide direction or offer a gentle nudge to keep them on track.
The bedroom is often too distracting, especially for elementary-age children, because they have toys, games and other things to lure them away from work. Teens often use the isolation to text and email friends.
If you tend to let your children study in different parts of the house because they often distract each other or themselves by making faces and being disruptive, think about buying or making cardboard study dividers. They create a designated space at the table and make the room feel more like a workspace.
If space is an issue, think about using a lap desk. It has a flat top and a cushion underneath, so kids can comfortably balance a book or a notebook while they work. You can make them sit in specific areas of the room away from each other, but still within earshot. The lap desk is also small enough that it can be stored in a bin or a closet.
If you have a designated drawer, closet or bin for supplies, children can always find paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. You might even invest in a small bookcase and label a shelf for each child to place books and papers after school, making them easier to retrieve when it is time to do homework and to gather things to put in a backpack for school in the morning.
Speaking of backpacks, is there a designated space – perhaps hooks on the wall or a cubby – to hang up backpacks so they aren’t kicked under beds or tossed in a chair after school and difficult to find when you’re rushing to get out the door on time in the morning?
The old adage about “a place for everything and everything in its place,” saves parents – and children – a lot of aggravation.
Delice Smith-Barrow, in a recent article in The Washington Post, recommends a “fidget toy” called Tangle Jr. for hyperactive children.
“For kids who are hyperactive, they are always grabbing at things or flicking their hair, and they’re craving sensory input. They are doing that to help sustain their attention,” Smith-Barrow wrote. “And as parents, often when we see our kids doing that, fidgeting with a pencil or flicking a paper clip, it’s our first inclination to say, ‘Stop doing that. Focus on your homework.’”
Smith-Barrow also recommended using a timer and setting up shorter intervals of time for children to work, then letting them take a break. Having a specific period in which to focus, followed by some designated chill time, seems to make children far more productive than if left at the table for an indefinite period to finish their work.
And if you need to do a little homework before you start supervising studying, The Post recommends the following books:
- “The Organized Student” (Fireside, 2005) by Donna Goldberg.
- “Organizing the Disorganized Child” (HarperCollins 2009) by Martin L. Kutscher and Marcella Moran.
- “Homework Without Tears” (Canter & Associates) by Lee Canter and Lee Hausner.
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