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Homework Hygiene

Great tips to improve homework practices from Screenagers:

Homework Hygiene is all about helping kids develop effective practices around homework such as writing to-do lists, developing the habit of prioritizing the list and checking things off.

It is a top priority to engage our kids in conversations in which they become aware of the challenges they face in having good homework habits.

Screenagers 3-part conversation tactic for helping kids gain insight and ideas for optimal homework hygiene:

    1. Empathize – Start by saying you have empathy for all kids about homework—you understand that after a full school day how difficult it is to do repetitive or hard work. Validate that having to do homework can feel tortuous at times, and now with distractions at our fingertips, there is a new, unprecedented level of challenge.
    2. Get curious – Have one good conversation about homework that is calm and curious, not personal and judgemental.
    3. Explore effective strategies – After the non-personal conversations, get your kid to talk about their current homework strategies and habits. Ask questions like, “Do you start by writing a list of what needs to get done?” Now is a good time to throw out ideas.

Examples of good Homework Hygiene:

  1. Do homework after physical activity because the body is physiologically primed to learn more efficiently in this state.
  2. Start with the task that they least want to do and set the alarm for 10 minutes. That helps get over the hurdle of doing it. Then, after the 10 minutes, coming back to it will be much easier.
  3. Have a rule that all tech is off by a certain time so homework cannot be done late at night.
  4. Put phones out of sight and decide when it is reasonable for a tech or phone break. My 10th grader takes a short phone break about every 30 minutes.
  5. Put in place other breaks, not just checking phone, such as playing with a pet, or doing part of a crossword puzzle with them.
  6. Get a system that monitors what the student does on the computer, i.e. how often they check other sites. If they know this is on the computer, it can help keep them stay on task until they get a break. Check out our website for computer monitoring systems. Another way to do this is to tell your child that the two of you will check their browsing history from time to time. It is vital to be upfront about this because kids can easily erase their history.

Help Teens Get the Sleep They Need

Starting around puberty, kids start getting tired later at night. While it might seem like they need less sleep, in fact, teens need about 9 hours of sleep at night. Unfortunately, most teens do not get the sleep they need.

What Makes it Hard for Teens to Sleep?

Several factors make it hard for teens to get the sleep they need:

  • Schedule. The average teen gets tired around 11 p.m. and has to get up between 6 and 7 a.m. to get to school on time. This makes it impossible to get 9 hours of sleep.
  • Homework. The push to succeed can backfire when kids sacrifice sleep to do homework. After a night of too little sleep, your teen may not be able to focus in class or absorb new material.
  • Texting. Even early evening texts can disrupt sleep. Hearing constant text alerts can make it impossible to wind down and relax into sleep.

What Parents can do

  • Make rules about bedtime. Set a bedtime for your teen, and yourself, and make sure you stick with it.
  • Limit nighttime activities.  Consider limiting the number of weeknights your child stays out past dinner.
  • Offer homework support.  If they have a heavy semester, help them schedule homework time and limit other activities.
  • Set technology boundaries.  You might make a rule that no devices are allowed in the bedroom after a certain hour.
  • Promote relaxing activities. In the hour or so before bedtime, encourage your child to do something relaxing. This might mean reading a book or taking a warm shower. Encourage your teen to explore ways to unwind so sleep can come.

9 Steps to Set Up a Kids’ Homework Area

Where you set up the homework area in your home isn’t as important as the fact that you have some kind of designated place where your grade-schooler has the comfort and quiet to relax and concentrate once the homework assignments start rolling in.

Younger children generally need more supervision and help with homework than kids in older grades. You may want to consider setting up an area for him at the dining room table or kitchen counter, even if he has a desk and chair in his room.

Some other ideas to keep in mind as you plan your child’s homework space:

1. Ask your child to help you set up the work area. Letting her have a say in how her work space is arranged will make it more likely that she’ll want to do work there.

2. Have supplies on hand. Put crayons, markers, pencils and other art and school supplies your child will need to do his homework in a portable bin so that he’ll have everything within easy reach.

3. Turn off the TV. Keep noise and distractions to a minimum so that your child can focus on her work.

4. Let there be light. Make sure his workspace is well-lit so that he can see comfortably.

5. Cut out the clutter.  Make sure your child’s work area is neat, organized and mess-free.

6. Give her time. Make sure you set up enough time each night so that she doesn’t feel rushed and can take the time she needs to settle comfortably at her homework station and thoroughly finish her work.

7. Give him a work buddy. If your lower-grade-schooler has an older sibling, they can sit and do homework together. If not, set up his favorite stuffed animal in a nearby chair with his own paper and pencil so that your child feels like he has a homework buddy working alongside him.

8. Sit down with your child. While dinner is cooking, try to spend part of homework time sitting next to your child doing your “work”—catching up on mail or reading a magazine.

9. Be flexible. Some days, your child may decide that she wants to fling herself down on the floor and do her homework on her tummy instead of at her homework area. Younger grade-schoolers generally don’t get homework that takes hours to do, so as long as she’s comfortable and gets her work done, let her choose how she wants to work.

Adapted from www.verywell.com

7 Questions to Ask Before Giving Your Child Their First Phone

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7 Questions to Ask Before Giving Your Child Their First Phone

  1. Does your child show a sense of responsibility, such as letting you know when they leave the house? Do they show up when they say they will?
  2. Does your child tend to lose things, such as backpacks or homework folders?
  3. Does your child need to be able to contact you at any time for safety reasons?
  4. Would having easy access to friends benefit your child for social reasons?
  5. Do you think your child will use cell phones responsibly—for example, not texting during class or disturbing others with their phone conversations?
  6. Can your child adhere to limits you set for minutes talked and apps downloaded?
  7. Will your child use text, photo and video functions responsibly and not to embarrass or harass others?

For additional resources, check out Smart Talk

Get Involved in Your Child’s Middle School

father helping sonBeing involved in your child’s school and schoolwork when they’re in elementary school is easy.  Students in those grades need more help with assignments and attention from chaperones.  Plus they are generally more inclined to have adults present and receive their help.  In middle school however, all bets are off.  Students feel less of a need to have their parents around and there are typically less opportunities for parents to become involved.  Because of this you might have to think outside of the box or look for new ways to be involved with your child’s middle school experience.  SchoolFamily.com put together a helpful list on ways to be involved with your child when they’re in middle school.

Get to know the teachers. It’s a good idea to meet each of your child’s teachers.  Find out important information from them like how much time your child should spend on homework each night. Find out when tests are scheduled and ask what the best way to get in touch with them is if you have questions.

Find a niche for yourself at your child’s school. Unlike in the lower grades, middle school classrooms don’t need extra adults on hand. But you can volunteer in other ways. Serve as an adviser for an extracurricular activity such as the school paper, chess club, or science fair.

Volunteer to chaperone school dances and drive kids to school sports competitions. You’ll meet other parents, school staff, and your child’s classmates.

Go to school meetings and events. Attending concerts, plays, assemblies, meetings, and other activities is a good way to become familiar with your child’s school community.

Find out about homework assignments and school tests. If your school has a website where teachers list homework assignments, get in the habit of checking it regularly. If not, contact your child’s teachers and ask them to alert you when there’s an important project or test coming up.

Check your child’s homework, but don’t do it for him or her. Offer to check math problems, proofread written papers and look over spelling words. If you find a mistake, point it out to your child and help her figure out the correct answer.

Let us know what other ways you are involved in you child’s middle school in the comments below.

The Do's and Don'ts of Homework

father helping sonGetting your kids to do their homework can be tough.  Helping them learn from their homework and succeed without doing it for them can be tough as well.  There are many things you can do to help with the homework process; from creating the right homework environment to helping with homework problems.  There are also many pitfalls to avoid.  Sometimes we as parents think we are helping, but end preventing our children from learning on their own.   Our friends at The Learning Community have put together a great list of do’s and don’ts for homework.

 

Do:

  • Provide quiet study time in a well-lit place.
  • Be available to encourage, praise, advise, and supervise.
  • Monitor your child’s understanding of concepts and skills.
  • Check work for accuracy, neatness, and completeness.
  • Provide related home-learning experiences to reinforce concepts learned at school.
  • Cooperate with and be supportive of the child’s teacher.
  • Help your child make education a top priority during his/her school years. Show by example that learning can be exciting and fulfilling.

Don’t:

  • Do the child’s homework for him/her.
  • Make excuses or allow the child to make excuses for incomplete or sloppy work.
  • Change, criticize, or belittle a teacher’s assignments. If there’s a problem, talk to the teacher.
  • Allow the child to skip an assignment he/she doesn’t like.
  • Fill the child’s life with so many non-school activities there is no time left for homework or play. Relieve the child of responsibility for getting homework back to school on time.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Homework

father helping sonGetting your kids to do their homework can be tough.  Helping them learn from their homework and succeed without doing it for them can be tough as well.  There are many things you can do to help with the homework process; from creating the right homework environment to helping with homework problems.  There are also many pitfalls to avoid.  Sometimes we as parents think we are helping, but end preventing our children from learning on their own.   Our friends at The Learning Community have put together a great list of do’s and don’ts for homework.

 

Do:

  • Provide quiet study time in a well-lit place.
  • Be available to encourage, praise, advise, and supervise.
  • Monitor your child’s understanding of concepts and skills.
  • Check work for accuracy, neatness, and completeness.
  • Provide related home-learning experiences to reinforce concepts learned at school.
  • Cooperate with and be supportive of the child’s teacher.
  • Help your child make education a top priority during his/her school years. Show by example that learning can be exciting and fulfilling.

Don’t:

  • Do the child’s homework for him/her.
  • Make excuses or allow the child to make excuses for incomplete or sloppy work.
  • Change, criticize, or belittle a teacher’s assignments. If there’s a problem, talk to the teacher.
  • Allow the child to skip an assignment he/she doesn’t like.
  • Fill the child’s life with so many non-school activities there is no time left for homework or play. Relieve the child of responsibility for getting homework back to school on time.