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Challenge: Back to School

A Good Homework Routine

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During our first 12 years of marriage, my husband and I moved six times. I got good at the logistics of moving, but even so, I found it exhausting. The exhaustion came not so much from the work of moving, but from the amount of thought and decision making required to complete the most basic of tasks. I like routine chores such as walking the dog, or unloading the dishwasher to be completed on autopilot. That way my mind can be free to think of interesting or creative ideas.

Autopilot works for homework routines too. If we can get our kids to eliminate the need to make a lot of decisions before homework begins, it will free their minds and leave them the mental energy needed to do their homework well.

A Good Homework Routine

A good homework routine covers all the required bases. Things like desk tidy, backpack ready for tomorrow, rote memory work studied a little bit every day – not crammed the night before the test, math homework completed daily, history notes reviewed daily, English reading finished daily, assigned homework completed, plus time for the extras like tests, papers, and additional required reading.

A good homework routine has kids do tasks in the optimal order for successful learning. The best order to do homework is easy – hard – easy – hard – easy. For example:

  • a rote assignment such as vocabulary review for about 10 minutes
  • hardest assignment next
  • an easier assignment for a breather
  • next hardest assignment

The last item in a good routine is always to get the backpack ready for tomorrow. Don’t forget gym uniform, sports equipment, musical instrument, etc!

A good homework routine is flexible. For example, if it’s the musical season and homework time has to fit between school ending and stage time beginning, no problem. Or if it’s football season and they can’t get started on homework until after practice and dinner, that is also not a problem. Just teach your kids to do the next thing in their routine regardless of when homework time is happening.

Something else they can do to optimize their time is to identify tasks that can be completed in 15 minutes for those odd opportunities during the day. If they get an unexpected study hall during the day or 15 minutes at the end of class, they will know what to do, and they won’t waste their time wondering what to do.

A good homework routine means kids can be self-sufficient. As parents our job is to make sure our kids have all the school supplies they need, and a designated spot for doing homework. The rest is up to them. We can be available to call out the vocabulary words or spelling words if asked, or help with a math problem, but doing homework is our kids’ responsibility not ours.

A good homework routine means that we can relax with our sweetie, and maybe even share share a cocktail. We can give our kids a kiss goodnight after they are finished their homework, and then go to sleep knowing that we have helped our children to become self-sufficient human beings.

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Maureen Paschal is a freelance writer, a teacher-librarian, and a mom of four almost grown kids. She blogs at Raising The Capable Student where her goal is helping parents to keep family life a priority and school success in perspective. Her work has been featured in On Parenting from the Washington Post, Grown and Flown, Perfection Pending, and Today Parents.

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