September is here and the start of the school year is just days away. While many of us are still trying to squeeze the most out of the remaining days of the summer holidays, it is a good time to start preparing for the school year ahead. Establishing rituals and routines around activities like getting ready for school, and doing homework will help to set the stage, and ensure the year starts off on the right foot.
Homework is a topic that has become somewhat controversial. A number of experts have come forward in recent years with research that questions the benefit of homework for elementary school children. One important issue is that homework takes valuable time away from other tasks such as physical activities and spending time with family. Still, homework is very commonplace, and it is assigned regularly to children in grades as young as kindergarten. Let’s face it, few children actually like homework, and many parents like it even less. Whether your child is in pre-school or high school, there are some simple ways to ensure that the task is completed with ease and without too much trouble.
Take a Play Break After School
Before starting homework, allow children free time to relax and play after returning home from school. After having been in a structured learning environment all day, a break is important to clear the mind and move the body before settling down to focus on more work at home. This is important no matter what the age, and ideally it should happen outdoors.
Just like at bedtime, when it is time to do homework, some children will find every reason to create a delay. Especially if homework is being done right after school (before dinner), children will be hungry. In order to avoid having hunger as a reason to be distracted, have a snack before getting to work. Even better, make it a healthy snack to boost brainpower.
Make sure that the space where a child will be doing his homework is clear of distractions that may take attention away from the task at hand. This may include items such as toys and games, and especially electronics. Create a bright and clean workspace – desk or table – that is free of clutter.
Work in Short Spurts
Most children have an attention span that is much shorter than the time required complete homework tasks. According to Day2DayParenting, a child’s age is a general starting point for the number of minutes he or she can attend to a single assigned task. For example, a 5 year-old can focus for 5 minutes and a 7 year-old can focus for 7 minutes. For tasks that they may not be extremely interesting, the attention span may be even shorter. To avoid battles over sitting still, take short breaks from homework when a child’s focus begins to wane.
Work Standing Up
Allowing children to move between sitting and standing while they are working has shown to improve engagement in their work, and their ability to focus on learning. Stand-biased desks, designed for children of all ages, allow them to choose sitting or standing without interrupting their workflow. Having a stand-biased desk in a bright and clutter-free area of the home can create an environment where it is actually enjoyable to get work done.
With the right approach, homework can be tackled efficiently so that everyone can have more time for other important activities after school such as getting outside, cooking a healthy dinner and reading before bed. Set your children up for success with their homework this year and enjoy an improved experience for parents and children alike.
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