Homework Solution #3: Organization

Parent and pupil of preschool.

By fourth grade it can be helpful for a child to use a homework notebook. This is a place to jot down homework assignments, due dates and materials as needed. If your child is struggling with any of these pieces, you might ask his teacher to spot check the lists.

It can also be helpful to have a large calendar at home to organize your child’s schedule. This includes daily homework times, extracurricular activity schedules, project and test due dates and weekend plans (for fun). By fourth grade, it can be helpful to teach your child to break down projects and studying for tests in to small pieces over time. If your fourth grader has a book report, you might show them how they can read five pages for six days and then have four days left to write. If there is a big test coming up, you might note studying 20 minutes each night the last several days.

If your child still has text books (that is a sad topic for another day), it can be helpful to color code the book covers and subject notebooks and folders by topic.

Teaching organization includes their notebooks, backpack, homework space and desk at school. If your child needs support in this area you might go through their backpack together once a week to throw out trash and organize their notebooks. It may be helpful to have an extra folder in their backpack for notes from home, permission slips and fliers from school. At least occasionally you might include cleaning up their homework space as a chore or as a few minutes of their homework time. If it seems needed, you might ask their teacher or guidance counselor to help them clean out and organize their desk.

Homework Solution 1: Time

Homework Solution 2: Place

Homework Solution #2: Place

Father helping daughter to finish homework

Another common homework battle is over place. The goal is a well stocked, well lit space with a good table or desk and a comfortable something for reading.

Well stocked means having everything your child might need for homework for the year. In elementary school this might be pencils, erasers, wide lined paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, construction paper, tape, glue and a ruler. By fourth grade add a protractor, poster board, a dictionary and thesaurus. By middle school a compass, highlighters, index cards, college lined paper and pens. At some point, depending on your child’s school this should also include access to the internet. At any grade, it may be helpful to have a list pad. Children can list their homework and check off tasks as they finish.

It may be helpful to have a table or desk that is a comfortable height for your child and provides enough table top space to spread out their work. It’s nice to also have a good beanbag or comfy reading chair nearby. For all of this, also helpful to have bright enough work lights.

It’s best to plan all of this in a space that is relatively calm and quiet. The kitchen table may not be the best place if it’s during dinner prep and a TV is often on in the room.

If they can give each other quiet and space, it can be fine for siblings to work in the same room. If not, separate rooms are also fine. My girls shared the kitchen table in grade school and often put up a science fair board as a boundary between them.

It can be helpful to also provide a place for their backpack. In our house this was a painter’s tape X in the foyer. Homework was not done until it was in the bag and on the X.

Homework Solution 1: Time

Homework Solution 3: Organization

 

 

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