Homework Tips for Parents: How to Keep Your Kids Interested in Learning
a mother helping her kids with homework on a tablet

How to Create Effective Homework for Kids of All Ages

As the COVID-19 quarantine continues and students across the country are kept to the confines of home, parents are realizing they are almost completely in charge of helping their kids learn at the moment.

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Of course, most schools are having their classroom teachers attempt e-learning with their students through conferencing apps, chat boards, packets and email. But without the assistance and guidance of parents, e-learning is not going to be successful. In fact, some schools have already ended the school year early because the e-learning was too difficult to manage and hold students accountable for their work or lack of.

Summer Learning Slide (Summer Learning Loss)

There is such a thing as a “summer learning slide”, where students lose some of their knowledge during the summer when they are out of the classroom and no longer actively learning. With the quarantine being in effect going on three months now, you will be able to virtually double the amount of time students have spent out of the classroom once summer ends. This means that a “learning slide” could erase quite a chunk of gained knowledge by the time students return, if parents and teachers are not actively trying to educate the kids and make the best out of a bad situation.

Parents Are Accepting the Challenge

As an educator with more than a decade of experience in teaching elementary, high school and college, I have quite a few concerned parents trying to pick my brain right now and figure out how to best educate their kids during this troubling time. They want to ensure they have enough homework to provide their kids all throughout the summer, until school hopefully picks back up and returns to normal or something close to it.

Maybe Don’t Call It Homework…

As with many things in life, it is all about how you sell something to an individual. For instance, if I were to try to push vegetables on young children that hate anything green, I better have a game plan in place. If you are trying to rationalize with young boys, you might say how they will grow up big and strong if they eat their vegetables. It is all about knowing your audience and what will or won’t work for them.

If you start off with your kids by saying you have a bunch of homework for them to do during the summer, it may not be a pretty scene. Regardless of age, no child wants to hear they have a pile of homework to complete. Instead, it would be wise to call them “projects” and try not to overload them with more than one project at a time.

Elementary Students

If your child is struggling in math, you don’t exactly have to print out a thousand problems and overwhelm them into frustration. You would be better off making it a game and using a whiteboard that is attached to the wall. Give a math problem to them and let them know if they can get it right in under a minute, you will give them a piece of candy. But for every problem they get wrong, they owe you a piece of candy.

By having them work on it in front of you on the whiteboard, you can let them know exactly where they went wrong and how to fix it if they are struggling. And you don’t need to do a hundred problems for any subject, just provide enough to ensure they are grasping the concept and then go back and revisit it from time to time. You don’t need to swamp them with busy work.

This can be completed with spelling words, writing sentences, diagramming sentences, geography and a multitude of other subjects, as all can be written on the whiteboard. Not everything has to be completed with a pencil and paper.

Plus, elementary students love technology, so incorporating technology into any of the homework will make everything go more smoothly.

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Junior High and High School

There is something that happens to a kid when they enter into the teenage years. In general, they like to become more independent and might not want to work with their parent one on one. When you are trying your best to make sure they are learning what they need to, especially during these trying times, this can be a problem. Don’t fret however, as there are ways to work with even the most stubborn of teenagers.

Provide them homework, or “projects”, that they can do on their own and then you can simply look over everything when they are done. As an example, assign them a novel to read and have them write daily journal posts summarizing the chapters they have just read. They could also talk about how the characters evolve throughout the story, the purpose of the book, and what they have learned from reading it.

In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of educational websites currently out there and about half a million educational apps. You will be able to find some that work with what you are trying to educate your teenagers about. This will allow them to work independently, but you can also look over their shoulder and see what they are up to and if they are struggling.

What to Use with Students of All Ages

As we discussed above, technology is popular across the board with kids. If you create homework for them using the latest tech, they will buy into it. Kids like to take on projects when they feel it is fun and something they actually enjoy.

This includes online textbooks and workbooks. There are numerous free textbooks for students of all ages that you could be using during these months to strengthen any skills you feel your kids are lacking in. Don’t just guess what you feel they should be learning; use the textbooks as your curriculum map to guarantee you are providing them the right homework for kids that suit their needs.

If all else fails, email your child’s classroom teacher and ask them for guidance. They probably have a list of projects your kid could do during these next few months and beyond. And if you ever feel like you do not have the knowledge needed to be educating your child on a certain topic, reach out to a family member or friend that will. Who knows? Your child must just enjoy learning from them better anyway!

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