Like most kids, I did my homework at the dining room table. It was the place where I could think clearly, a hard surface on which to write, and it was just a tradition for me to have a snack there and then open up my books. As an instructional coach for my county's school system, one of my jobs is to research and provide staff development on how kids learn best. Kids today can do math, listen to their Beats, watch the latest episode of their favorite show, and text three people at the same time. What we see as divided attention, they see as multitasking! No matter your child's learning style, there are some great ways to get your kids on the right foot for school!
Establish an environment that is conducive to homework. Maybe for your child it is the dining room table, or the study, or maybe on his or her bed. Let your child choose this environment. Make sure all of the necessary materials (highlighters, pencils, craft supplies, paper, etc.) is nearby. This can be in a desk drawer, or in some sort of caddy. Our girls, even at two years old, have a desk drawer that is devoted to their coloring books, crayons, flash cards, stickers, and their Innotab learning tablets, but the things that they are allowed to get themselves such as memory game cards and picture books are in a Snapware case. Having materials in one place keeps kids from getting up and down or distracted.
Give your kids a break. I would always share with parents during conferences or meet the teacher night to allow students 30 minutes of choice activity to decompress after the school day. Even as an adult, I come home and read my mail, play on Facebook, or pin a few things on Pinterest before delving into any activities that I need to do. This ability to chill for a bit will bring greater and renewed focus once homework time starts.
Create a drop zone. This could be as simple as going to Target and picking up one of those cheap plastic in-and-out trays. Give each child a tray and let that be the place to drop off permission slips, tests to be signed, etc. That way, it is easy to see when you have something to review, and easy for them to see that you have signed it.
Invest in a planner. This is the number one tool that I can't stress enough to parents and students. Let your child pick it out. It can be and pen and paper planner or something digital on a cell phone. Google Calendar is a wonderful and free service that allows students to type in assignments and it is synced to your child's phone. He or she can even share the schedule with you with a click of a button, so you can see when assignments are due as well.
Get Web Savvy. Most schools are asking teachers to post homework and long-term projects on their websites. Bookmark these websites and check them daily with your child. This keeps you from having to call or send emails to get due dates. This way, you can review spelling words well in advance, or check over a final project before submission, avoiding frantic freakouts the night before something is due.
Find the organization practice that works for your child. Does your child need a separate folder or binder for each subject, or would just two large ones with dividers work? Does your child need to highlight or sticky note important information? Does he like flash cards or memory type games? Find out what makes your child tick and stick to that.
This is just a handful of ideas that can help your kids have a successful start. What are your favorite ideas for ideas on the home front?