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 September 2009                      Homework Tips
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Homework Tips

It is essential to begin the school year with the right foundational skills. The most important gift we can give our children, besides a good education, is the gift of effective study habits -these are life skills! The best way to establish routines is through repeating the pattern so that it just becomes automatic. All too often teachers give no homework and then, about a month before a reporting period, they assign too much homework. This cycle teaches students crisis management and cramming - not effective study habits! In order to assist your child to develop effective study habits that will support and assist them into adulthood, it is critical for you lend a hand in establishing the structure.

Tips to help 
1.  Establish the routine
: Repeating, predictable and structured.
  • Consider your child's rhythms. Give some free time after school to relax, unwind and get a healthy snack. Remember, fresh air and exercise feed the brain. Our brains weigh 5% of our body weight but take up 20% of our oxygen needs.
  • Make a colour coded magnetic family calendar of repeating activities (each family member has a different colour).  Write in all of the tutoring, sports, music, etc activities of every family member. Set homework times and mark them on the calendar as well.
  • Make certain they have a distraction-free zone either in their room or within the house so you or your day care provider can keep an eye on what is happening.
  • Follow the shopping guide on my web site and make certain all the materials are easily available so once they start they will not have to get up to get something. Put pencils, pens, erasers, rulers etc. in a basket so if they have to move locations to the computer they can easily transport their supplies.
    • Homework always begins with sorting the loose papers by going through binders and backpack, punching 3 holes and filing with the subject notes.
    • Method of completing homework should maximize child's learning style so they are able to work to their potential (see newsletter on learning style on my web site)
    • If there is no homework assigned, then they go to Plan B for 20 minutes (30 minutes if in grade 7, 8 or beyond) ESTABLISHING THE ROUTINE IS CRITICAL!!!  
      Plan B could be :
      • Timetable drills on a computer game
      • Writing a journal paragraph with a specific focus (i.e. use as many descriptive adjectives or adverbs).
      • If you wish I will give several ideas for writing foci.
      • Keyboarding practice
      • Word meaning games to increase word usage and reading comprehension
      • Sudoku
      • Reading and writing a summary

THIS ROUTINE MUST BE REINFORCED THROUGH A REWARD SYSTEM SUCH AS  having friends over, phone calls, TV watching, MSN or game playing. IT IS ALSO CRITICAL TO USE THIS AS A METHOD OF TEACHING THE TRUE SENSE OF TIME. Set a timer for 20 minutes and when it is up, see what they have accomplished, acknowledge the success and reward.

The sense of time is important; so often as parents we distort time for kids (we say just a minute and they come to realize it is a way of putting them off or the minute becomes a half an hour).  HONOUR AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY AND DO IT!!!

2.  Make a plan with your child
  • When there is school homework, sit down and strategize with your child. Set time boundaries and challenge them to work efficiently.
  • Chunk and plan out larger assignments on their semester at a glance calendar which is above their desk on a bulletin board
  • Colour code each subject for visual learners so they can easily see what is due when.
  • Make a checklist in a chart form to break down the task into the tiny component steps (a research project has about 10 steps). Have your child list all the steps, allow a set amount of time for each step, and mark it on the large calendar. Keep a record of this so you and you child can see the exact amount of time each step takes. This becomes a terrific baseline for future planning and time challenges.
3.  Don't over-schedule
  • Studies have shown that when homework is completed before dinner the student's marks are higher!
  • Have your student bring some homework with them if you know there will be a wait in a Doctor's office, sibling's sports event etc.

4.  Plan for supervision

  • If you have a babysitter overseeing after-school hours, then give her clear instructions for helping with homework and advise her that, if possible, it has to be done before you get home. Have her use a timer and accurately measure the amount of time each task will take and reward when completed. 
  • If your child is in an after-school program, check to be certain there is provision for homework.
  • If student is on their own before you get home, make certain there are healthy snacks in the fridge, time for some exercise and then a phone call to you at the agreed upon time that homework is to begin. Whether it is school assigned or Plan B assigned, have them call you, set a time target and then have them call when completed.
  • What about starting a neighbourhood homework club with 1 or 2 other kids from your child's class? It might be a good way for keeping track of teacher expectations, homework assigned, due dates etc. It also provides for a motivating reward at completion---time with a friend.

5.  Launch Pad

  • When homework is complete, your child places their backpack at a designated place at or near the front door. Papers for you to sign along with the agenda are set on the kitchen table and then placed on top of the pack at the launch pad for morning once signed.

 6.  Check with the teacher

  • If your child is unclear, cannot remember or does not know what is expected, e-mail the teacher for clarification. If this does not get a response, call.



Events and Meetings
8th Annual Learning Disabilities and AD(H)D Resource Fair and Speakers Corner
Host:  Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Time: 12 noon to 8 pm
Location: Mississauga Convention Centre
Address: 75 Derry Road West, Mississauga, ON
Cost: Members receive 2 complimentary entrance passes,
Non-members: $20-25
ADDressing ADDult ADD
This is a facilitated monthly support group organized by and for adults with ADHD. It is an ADHD-friendly opportunity to share stories, experiences and coping strategies with others.
Dates: Every third Wednesday of the month
Time:  7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Place:  Glen Abbey United Church
1469 Nottinghill Gate, Oakville, ON

For more information contact:
"ADDressing ADDult ADD" []
PASS - Parent Advocates 4 Struggling Students
This is a group in Burlington who serve Halton and Peel Regions. There are monthly meetings with guest speakers as well as an informative web site.
They support the parents of children whose academic results are not consistent with their potential.

Students First Educational Coaching and Tutoring | 1693 Wedmore Way | Mississauga | ON | L5J 2J7 | Canada