Monday, March 18, 2013

Choosing the Best Time to Do Homework What Works For Each Level


Choosing the Best Time to Do Homework

What Works For Each Level

Scheduling a homework time is tricky in this day and age with so much happening and long commutes.  Here are some quick tips to help you choose the best time to do homework.


Elementary School

  • Choose a time when a responsible adult is available to help if needed.  This can be a nanny, grandparent, older sibling (note the responsible part!) or an after care teacher.

  • Write down the homework time – even if your schedule changes during the week, decide on the homework time in advance

  • Schedule test dates then move backwards from the test dates to schedule study sessions.  This is incredibly important for those children who are new to taking tests and studying.  They need the structure of regular studying with an adult to learn the skill.

  • Choose the best time of day for your child.  Many children younger than third grade (and even all elementary grades) do not know what is best for them in terms of time of day to do homework.  Maybe your child needs some playtime and after dinner is the best time.  Maybe getting the homework done right after coming home works best for your child and even your entire family.  Usually, though, the closer you are to bedtime, the more of a struggle homework is.  Everyone is tired, grumpy and just wants to relax.  So try and schedule it earlier.


Middle School

  • Allow child to choose his homework hours – then reassess one week in to see how things are going – or reassess when activities change.  Remember, you are trying to help achieve more independent skills at this age.  You can start doing this with third grade and up if you think your student is able to do so. 

For example, when I taught third grade, I had one particular boy who never seemed to get his homework done.  It turns out he had long hockey practices every night.  We had a class discussion about homework and what might work for you.  He said he thought getting up at 5:30 am would be a good way for him to get his work done.  I definitely had my doubts about that plan, but wouldn’t you know…it worked for him!  His mother reported him faithfully getting up each morning (without prompting) to do his homework.  It was a terrific lesson for both the student and myself that younger children can set goals and achieve them in terms of homework.


High School

  • This is where homework should be a child’s full responsibility.  Obviously, there are times when this does not happen as nicely as it should.  If you have a student who is struggling, talk it through and decide what options are the best.

  • Check in with them.  This is critical.  Don’t check behind their back (unless you have a reason to) but be sure to check in and see how homework is going.  Keep the lines of communication open.

  • Use grade reports and test/quiz grades to check time spent on homework/studying.  If you are seeing grades that are falling or lacking, maybe a sport needs to be dropped or an activity needs to be suspended for a time.  Make sure your student is not too overloaded to get his work done.

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