This is the time of year when homework woes hit. The grace period for teachers to allow students the “I forgot,” or the “I didn’t know we had that for homework,” excuses fall on deaf ears. For most, student responsibilities have become routine. However, for many boys, homework completion is a struggle, and parents find themselves in a daily battle to send their sons to school with the necessary finished workbooks, signed papers, and logged-in reading hours.

Parents play such an important role in the homework piece of education. Each grade level requires a different level of involvement. In the younger grades talking about the day, reading a book out loud, and using daily conversation to discuss math concepts, can be the best homework help. However in the older grades parents can be asked to explain how prime factorization can help find the least common multiple of a set of numbers. Whew! Clearly, parents bear much of the homework burden. How does this happen without too much sacrifice?

As a fifth grade teacher, I used to give out handouts on back-to-school night that alerted parents to their responsibility for homework guidance and help. These handouts included ideas about where and when homework could take place. Do you have a set time for homework (right after school or right after dinner)? Or, do you have a set place (at the kitchen counter or at a special desk)? These routines can be extremely important in the successful completion of your son’s homework assignments.

One website that I used as a resource was http://www.teachersandfamilies.com/open/parent/homework1.cfm . This site (which is currently going through some changes) lists, “Four Basic Principles to enhance study skills: 1. Make doing homework a positive experience: associate it with love and affection, freedom, fun, and self –control. 2. Make homework a high priority. 3. Use homework to teach organization skills and improve learning skills. Remember that the primary purpose of homework is to improve learning and foster work habits. 4. Set expectations for homework, then provide and enforce logical, meaningful consequences if those expectations are not met. “

I encourage parents to seek out resources like this and take their own parent homework responsibility seriously. Formulating a homework plan that works for your family will help relieve stress and ensure a more successful year for your son.

I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.

  • In Morning Meetings this week there were wonderful stories told by Mr. Smyth and Dr. Webster. For the older boys – what did the story of the stonecutter mean to you?   For the younger boys- what did the story of the young boy, the emperor, and his seeds mean to you?
  • If you are in Kindergarten- What farm animals are you learning about? What art did you create this week with Ms. Alexander? Do you like working in the art room?
  • If you are in Pre-First- What did you write about in your journals this week?
  • If you are in First Grade- What pictures did you take on your walk to find good and services?
  • If you are in Second Grade- What did you have to do on your iPad to create your book about yourself and the world?
  • If you are in Third Grade- Why were you creating a volcano in class? How did you do on your Social Studies test- or are you prepared for your test this week?
  • If you are in Fourth Grade- What are you learning about mammals and invertebrates in science? How are you showing what you know to others? What are the divisibility rules that you are learning in math?
  • If you are in Fifth Grade- How did your first social studies test go? Did you prepare carefully and answer the essay questions fully? Are you enjoying learning about Jamestown knowing that you will be traveling there in April?

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