If you’re like me, the onslaught of homework seems relentless. Because of the two days off at the end of the first quarter, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy, there seemed to be no break between the first and second quarters. However, the second quarter is now in full swing, and this is a good time to help your children evaluate and regroup. Our goal? Better grades, yes, but in our family, the more important tasks are to improve time management of homework and long term projects, to become more organized, and to reduce stress, all of which will also improve grades.
Gearing up Strategies
· Blackboard: Many teachers use Blackboard to list assignments, provide study guides and resources, and share pertinent information. To stay on top of things, your child should check Blackboard every day. Parents can get on Blackboard too, but in our family it is the students’ job to check in.
· Organizing supplies: Our rule is that the backpack may not contain loose, wrinkled papers; I do periodic spot checks for this. Every paper needs to be filed in the appropriate place. Some students prefer binders, which require hole-punching, while others prefer folders. There should be a separate folder for each subject or two, and maybe another one just for homework. Now is a good time to get rid of papers that are no longer needed. Some can be recycled and others can be stored in folders at home for later use.
· Schedules: If homework is not getting done in a timely manner, work with your child to set up a schedule. Estimate how long each assignment will take, and incorporate extracurricular activities and instrument practice time. Also allow time for reading for pleasure. Daily pleasure reading does as much to improve your child’s academic skills as homework. Short breaks are OK, but more extended leisure time is best saved for after homework and reading are done.
· Long term projects: It is easy to procrastinate. These should be written down in a prominent place, either somewhere in your house, in an assignment book, or both. You can use a calendar to plug in parts of the projects that should be worked on periodically, so that the due date doesn’t come along too quickly.
· Tests: Students: Do not wait until the day before a test to study! Get a study guide from the teacher. Most study guides include almost everything that will be on the test. The best ones require active studying, such as requiring the student to research the information or do practice problems. If you are not sure, ask the teacher what will be on the test, what the format will be (multiple choice, short answer, or essay) and how she recommends you prepare.
· Reducing stress: Students: If you are organized, have a plan, stay focused, and don’t procrastinate, your stress level will be reduced (and your parents’ stress, too). Also, get enough sleep, find time to exercise, and take short breaks to play with friends, play your favorite computer game, or watch a favorite TV show. Finally, don’t forget family time. Family dinners and outings, and promoting positive interactions and laughter will improve your whole family’s well being.