Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How to Make Homework Time Zen-like

Today, I am so happy to be able to share with you this article written by my friend, Angelica Perez-Litwin, a bilingual Psychologist in New York. She's also the founding editor of New Latina, a website dedicated to the personal and career success of today's Latina women. Angelica's youngest child is being homeschooled, and she has three more children enrolled in local schools.

I know that many of your who read this blog have children in a traditional school setting. So here are some excellent tips to help you make the homework process go more smoothly...

Photo by ND Strupler
 I don’t know about you, but I seem to dread homework time as much as my children.

In my days, homework was merely two activity sheets. Today, my kids come home with hours of homework assignments, special projects, test review sheets, and instrument practice.

Unavoidably, they need guidance, support and encouragement to complete what appears to be the second part of the school day.

Managing homework, while cooking, attending to younger kids, and handling household chores can be quite challenging. You may feel scattered, trying to juggle it all. And when your child needs more attention than you can provide, frustration may set in — resulting in an unwanted tone for homework time.

Here are a few tips I have found useful to make homework time a peaceful one:

Review your after-school schedule. Make a list of everything that needs to get done. Next to it, write down how much time it really takes to get that task done. Then assess if you have enough time to do it? You may realize that you were packing too much between the after-school time and bed time. Assess which tasks can be done earlier in the day.

Create a comfortable, well-lit homework space or corner. A homework area is an excellent way to highlight the importance of homework. Bring in pillows, comfy seats and lots of pencils, sharpeners, and paper. The homework area should be a quiet zone, useful for reading, studying or instrument practice.

Each child should have his/her own homework area – this will avoid sibling talk, disruption or commentary between the siblings.

• If possible, cook or prepare meals before the kids come home. Some parents prefer to cook in the morning, before their kid wake up. Others enjoy cooking at night, after putting the kids to sleep.

Plan meals ahead of time. This will help save time by ensuring you have all the ingredients you need, and knowing exactly what you need to do.

• Carve out 20-30 minutes of your undivided attention to help your child with challenging homework area.

• Avoid pressuring your children to do homework as soon as they arrive from school. Give them “settling in” time. Allow them to stretch, relax for a few minutes and tell you about their school day. The transition to homework time should be a smooth one.

• Set rules around the use of television, radios, and computers during homework time. Reduce as many distractions as possible.

• If you notice your child takes hours to complete his homework, he/she may be struggling with a specific area. Set up a time with his teacher to explore why.

Take the “work” out of homework. Find ways to make homework time as fun and relaxing as possible. Have a stash of funny jokes around. Encourage the kids to take 1 minute breaks to stretch or do jumping jacks.


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