With a brand new year, many of us are looking for a fresh start so today I’ve got a professional organizer with us to help! She’s going to teach us all about how to help our kids become more independent in their homework routines.
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I love her suggestions and practical tips and have been using them at home with great success. Here’s Lea with everything else you need…
Eventually, most parents want to stop doing homework. At least, I know I did.
As a mother of three, I had plenty of opportunity to help my kids with homework, quiz them for tests and round up poster board, markers and book report covers. It’s all part of the parenting job— but so is gradually teaching them how to manage on their own. Unless, of course, you plan to go off to college with them!
As a professional organizer, I realized we don’t often arm our kids with the tricks of organization we’ve learned throughout our life. At work, you probably have several “tools” you use to keep your job rolling along—even if you don’t think of them as tools.
Equipping your student with both the physical items for organization and fresh ideas on how to stay on top of time management are lessons that they will take off to college and beyond.
Learning how to pace out projects, large reading assignments and study time are the key elements in fostering homework independence. Learning to manage their time instead of waiting until the last minute is a big stress reliever for students and their parents.
Start by creating a study area for your child. Early on, they will be at the kitchen table, so you can frequently guide them. As they get older, encourage them to work independently and come find you as they get stuck. There are a lot of distractions in a common room like the kitchen or den. Find a quiet spot for them where they can read and concentrate.
Equip your area with a comfortable seat and surface. Add bright lighting and stock up on the school supplies needed most often, then try some of these organizational tips.
#1 – Look for Visual Cues
The more ways we can remind ourselves, the better. A large wipe-off to-do list (see MPMK’s DIY version here) is a great way to keep up with upcoming dates. Have your student note when important exams are coming up or when projects are due.
Make use of technology and try a free email reminder service. Enter reminders for important projects when the assignment is given, and the service will send the student reminders as the due date looms.
You can also teach them to carry a to-do list. Have them start each day by reviewing the previous day’s to-do list. Then, they can add new items all day to keep track of what needs to be done.
#2 – Get an “A” for Managing Reading
One of the hardest things for a student to do is get their assigned reading done on time. It always seems like there is more than enough time to read that book, then suddenly they have 200 pages to read by tomorrow.
At the start of each reading assignment, teach them to use a bit of math. Divide the number of pages to be read by the number of days there is to read them. Then slip in pieces of paper as markers for each day. Instead of telling your student to read for 20 minutes, tell them they need to read until they hit the next marker.
#3 – Adjust Their Study Space
Get serious about how and where your student studies. Create an environment that is conducive to work.
Invest in some grown-up methods for handling paperwork. Often, students simply do not know what to do with their completed papers. Some teachers require them to be kept in a notebook. Beyond that, students are lost.
Get a paper stacker. As they clear their backpack, they can sort papers by subject. Or, use hanging file folders in a file box or desk drawer for the same purpose.
The older your student gets, the more likely they will be to have cumulative exams. Having all the papers from a subject on hand is a great help for studying. It also can help them focus on their weak areas to shore them up. Not only that, giving them a home for papers teaches them to put papers away and stay organized—a trait many adults wish had been instilled in them from a young age.
#4 – Calendarize Everything
Teach your student to really use a calendar. Here’s another great one for younger kids under $10!
Since older kids are glued to their phone, a calendar app is a great way to go. Look for one that shows the whole day in an hourly layout. Show students how to block out the school day, sports practices, after-school jobs and other items. This will clearly show them the open windows of time they have to allocate to studying or homework.
When your student differs with you about when to do homework, have them show you their calendar and point out when they are free and committed to getting it done. Often students feel they have the whole day or whole week ahead of them to complete homework. Seeing their time mapped out in front of them is really helpful for proper time management.
Keep in mind that learning organizational techniques happens a bit at a time. Each idea you introduce becomes one more step towards your student learning how to manage their own time.
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Lea Schneider is a mother and professional organizer who helps clients organize their homes and lives. She provides tips on creating homework stations for busy students with desk organizers and wall calendars. To view some wall decor options to help organize your student’s space, visit The Home Depot.