Welcome to 2020: homework is classwork, outside is inside, and Mom is the substitute teacher. It’s a pretty confusing time for everyone, and homeschooling your kids for the first time isn’t making it any easier. If you need a little help getting this new homework/classwork mashup into gear, consider the following tips to ease the transition.
Designate a workspace. Whether it’s a bedroom desk or the kitchen table, the area should be clean and quiet. Clear away anything not related to homework and have all the necessary materials nearby.
Limit distractions. Shut the TV and put away all phones, games, and electronics. Try to limit noise and, if possible, separate siblings. Headphones are a must.
Pick the right time—and stick to it. If you’re child is not required to be logged in at a specific time, figure out when he is likely to be the most focused. He should be completing work at this same time every day.
Use the teacher’s way. WE know, we know, it’s tempting. You learned it a different way when you were in school and it’s soooo much easier to explain that way. But if you deviate from the method your child learned in class you will probably confuse her further.
Plan ahead. Your child won’t gain anything from burning the midnight oil when a report is due the next day. Purchase a large calendar to organize assignments, taking care to hang it in a spot that is visible to all family members. Homeschool or not, due dates are due dates.
Take breaks. Grade school children will generally stay focused for only a brief period of time, as little as just 15 minutes. Let your child work in increments, allowing for a short break to relax in between assignments. Just be sure to restrict the use of electronics during breaks.
Praise a job well done. When you notice your child working hard, let her know you are proud of her. A little verbal praise can go a long way in boosting confidence and self-esteem. If you choose to reward her extra effort with a treat, keep it simple so as not to confuse the motivation.
Be helpful—but not too helpful. Stay close by and offer help if needed, but don’t do the work for him. Answer questions with other questions, and encourage your child to come to his own conclusions.
Talk to the teacher. If you feel that your child is overloaded with work or that the assignments are simply too lengthy or difficult, don’t be afraid to speak with the teacher. Perhaps you can come up with a solution together, or discover whether there is a deeper issue at hand. Teachers are more accessible now than ever.
Stay healthy. Good eating habits, an early bedtime, and regular exercise are all key components in keeping your child as productive and focused throughout the day as possible. You should continue to set an alarm to wake up at the same time every day (at least on weekdays), and kids should be spending time outside in the backyard or on nature walks with parents.
By Jeannine Cintron, a Staten Island mom of two who hope to master the art of homework by the time the kids are done with college.