Answers to Participant Question-Homework 101 Workshop


1. 13, 10, 8, different levels of homework involvement for each child as a single parent. How to manage that?

I’m not sure where you shop but if you go to Walmart, Amazon or anywhere else, perhaps pick out, with the children (those who are interested) a calendar with stickers. They can also buy their own stickers at the dollar store. Every Sunday, you sit down together and plan your week for an hour together. It’s family time, it’s connection time and it’s schedule time. Yes, you may need to cook, clean, have friends over and many other things. SCHEDULE the 1-hour block of this is for us. They schedule what needs to be done and at what times so you can feel more in control. What needs to REALLY be done each night? You aren’t sure, ask each teacher. Tell them that you are struggling with balancing this and would like to know what you should focus on and how to focus on it. Their teachers will be your best resource! The 13-year-old should be able to do their homework on their own. If they are struggling, find out why. What areas are they struggling with? What’s their focus? What do they see/not see? 

2. My frustration is that I feel that his reading level decreases a lot from the day we practice to one
days later. How to help with retention?

I am not sure how old your child is but I only started to REALLY understand what I was reading around the age of 23. Are they reading every day for 10-15 minutes? Focused reading, not slouched, on the couch, zoning off into some other place, really focused. If it’s focused reading for 5 minutes because that’s all they are capable of for the moment, take it. And congratulate them. Wow! Good job. You did really great reading during that time! Let’s do something else now. You are trying to get them to create small habits at their young age. Depending on the age, if they get through 3 pages, congratulate them; maybe 4 tomorrow. Small shifts. 

3. I try to help their homework, but they don’t want to do the homework. It seems like I’m doing the homework, not them. How to overcome this issue? 

If you are doing their work, which I’m not there to see what is really happening, but they won’t do it if you are already. It’s easy for them. What I love about what you wrote is that you are obviously VERY involved in what they are doing. Great job! Now, how can you get them more involved? Again, without knowing the children’s ages, it’s difficult to say how much independence the child “should” have but they are capable of doing at least 5 minutes. Every Sunday, plan out your week together. What needs to be done? What needs to be finished later but started now? How much time will that require? Can I just write the introduction the first week? Break it down for them so that they can start SMALL. Again, if it’s ONLY one sentence they can do at a time, go for it! Start shifting those small habits!

4. My daughter will rush through her homework; she will not take her time. How to get them to take their times doing homework? 

This is normal for a lot of kids. If you could rush to get all of your 8-hour workday done in one hour and your boss told you that you can go home and do whatever you want as long as it’s done, would you?What are your concerns about the rushing? Retention? Not caring? Not understanding? Is there proof of this already? Hold old is your daughter and what has her schooling/grades been like so far? How much time are they doing homework? Is 15 minutes enough for their age? Are you setting a timer together? Are they reviewing their work before putting it back in their bag? What habits do you want to be creating and why? Create those. 

5. Homework takes long time, sometimes they forget the book or the material, or the other reads too slow…, how parents can address these issues?

The first thing that stands out to me is the reading too slow. Maybe that’s their pace? And if it is, saying it’s too slow rather than, “Let’s set a goal for this week that you can read this page in 45 seconds instead of a minute?” may deter them. We want to build confidence. Again, I only started to really understand things when I was 23, much too late but nobody if confidence boost and learning for me. The other thing that stands out to me is reminders, and lots of them. Make family habits in the morning, in the car, before leaving for school etc. “What are we doing tonight? What do we need to go over? Is there a test coming up? I love you!” and then off they go. Create these schedule-shifting habits. Is this going to happen 100% before the end of the school year, probably not. But will you get maybe a 5% increase? Possibly. Check-off list that you can print out of all of the books that they are using; you can laminate it and they can check it off every morning with the washable marker to give them a verbal and visual reminder of what needs to be brought home. Remember, they have a HABIT of forgetting and they need to exercise that part of their brain. You’re training the habit.

6. It’s after 7pm by the time we are home and dinner is done – so they are exhausted, how to motivate them to do homework?

That sounds exhausting for you! I would be too tired to do homework at 7, after dinner has settled in my stomach too! What is your schedule like? Where can adjustments be made? Crock pot? Would you rather homework be done between 5 and 7? Depending how old your children are, can work be done at school? Is there a school program? Can one be made? What are the most important things that need to get done? Look at schedules and times and see what can be shifted, added or taken away, (example cooking versus 10-minute dinner prep tonight.)

7. New to French, French as a new subject, my child needs help, ways to help with French?

There are fun apps you can download to help kids learn French in a fun way. I would see if the teacher can do one hour of tutoring after school or at lunch to help your child. There are often older kids in school who are willing to help and get programs going too. At home, watch tv in French for 5 minutes, longer if you can. Ultimately, if you could watch tv in French all the time, that would be great. 

8. Rushing to get to any screen, sometimes rush through the homework to watch TV. How to get them to focus on homework?

It is so hard to set limits, times, rules around all this kind of stuff. What do you feel comfortable with? If you say, only 1 hour of tv per night from 7-8 and everything must be done beforehand properly, do you feel comfortable with that? This is something that you’ll have to see how you feel about it. 

9. Not understanding that learning is important. It is like a chore, annoying chore. How to change their perspective of homework?

First off, find out what they are struggling with. A lot of kids put on masks of “it’s annoying” when really, it’s “Mom, I’m struggling and it’s easier for me to get in trouble and say it’s boring rather than admit that I have no clue what I’m doing”. See if this is happening but tread lightly. Reinforcements? If you can do 4 days of homework consistently, you can stay up an hour later, get a special activity (ice cream) etc. It depends on their age. Kids need and WANT structure. So, if there is an alarm at 4 pm every day and a plate of apples beside it, they’ll get used to that routine. Also, start talking about their dreams and what they want to accomplish in life. What will you need to get that, go there?

10. How to stay involved without micromanaging?

This is hard to understand just by reading as I am not sure what behaviours you are engaging in to lead you to believe this is happening. Again, it’s always about age and capabilities/learned behaviours. Schedules, timers, reinforcements, small increments. Look through all the other questions too. 

11. as they go to high school you do not always receive the same feedback about assignments. Finding time to be consistent with homework assignments. How to do it

You are right, it’s important to be consistent.  What will help you do that? Schedules, timers, calendars, speaking with the teacher weekly. Having the teacher set up an app for the class? Sitting down with your child weekly and seeing what needs to be done and showing them how to schedule their assignments?

12. Not consistent homework practice year over year (teacher to another) makes it hard to develop a habit, how to make it into a habit?

What are your current practices at home? What would you like that to be instead? What would you be comfortable with? Do you need/want to do homework every night? What do you want to implement?

13. How to get my 13-year-old son to stay on top of his homework? I wanted him to be on his own by now; but he still needs me or else he will not study before hand and look at his homework, I
still need to study with him or else he goes from 70 to 40s grades. He rushes through his homework; does the minimal. I try to motivate him by not having his electronics or losing
sports privileges. Not sure what do too anymore.

There’s more going on than just homework. If he still needs you, then he needs you. What other areas of life does he feel he may need you in? Ask him. He may be struggling to learn things. Maybe he has difficulty at school and just isn’t saying anything. Can you set up a meeting with his teacher? What other areas is he struggling? After finding this out, if it’s only homework, then he just isn’t getting it and needs someone else to explain this to him differently because maybe it was just too overwhelming at school to grasp all of the concepts. Is tutoring an option? After school, at lunch, on weekends?