Here we are as students and families head into the second week of school and we begin to take on the adventures of homework. I can remember it like it was yesterday; my mother was a classroom teacher in the Opelika City Schools system and had much to do with her own students. But she would come home after school, cook “supper” then call me and my brothers to our dining room table and go over spelling words for the week, reading and math assignments and help us get ready for tests. When I became a teacher with my son, I used the same dining room oak table that my own mother used to guide my son with his homework assignments. I still have that tried-and-true homework table to pass on to future generations. Even though we live in a technology-driven world, there are a few tried-and-true, simple suggestions that “stick”, and are applicable in most homework situations no matter what age or generation we live in. I share these tips from my own experiences as a teacher and parent, as well as gleaning from educators and parents, in facing the best ways to meet homework challenges. 

Assess your child or children on what their learning strengths and weaknesses are in completing homework assignments. I want to review the different kinds of learning styles for your child to help parents better assist their children with their homework.

1. Reflective learners generally learn best when they are alone. These children are usually observers for a long time in assessing their situations. They may be children that will separate themselves by playing alone, looking at books by themselves and pondering on new learning situations.

2. Logical learners are geared to learn by following patterns or sequences. We think of ordering numbers or alphabet sequences when we think of this kind of learner.

3. Physical learners learn best by activity, such as being active with their hands, feet or whole body. We see these young children engaged in pretend play, as well as enjoying outside play and games.

4. Relational learners interact and relate well to other children. They are social and love to work in groups. They learn with their friends.

5. Musical learners love to sing, hum and enjoy playing musical instruments. When tambourines, bells and cymbals are available, they love to march around the room and learn.

6. Natural learners love the outside world. They are naturally little scientists who love to look closely at nature with its plants and animals.

7. A child’s age and development have to be considered too.

As you look at your children’s daily and extracurricular activities such as ball practice, music, dance lessons, playtime and dinner and you and your child should decide on a reasonable schedule to complete homework.

For each child, establish a separate quiet workspace or a room to do homework. Set rules so that people don’t need to disturb each other when doing homework. Also make sure that the workspace has the necessary materials to do homework, such as pencils, pens, paper, rulers, computer, calculators or resources needed to look up certain homework topics. Putting all materials in a box or in one place will save your children a lot of time in getting organized so they can quickly embark on their homework assignments.

Phone calls and texting friends should be minimized unless it is a study situation to help with a specific assignment. 

Children need to take breaks when doing homework. Bathroom and snack breaks, as well as getting up to move and stretch, can reduce a child’s frustration if the homework assignment is difficult and needs to be broken down into steps. 

Older children can be guided, but they can usually take on the responsibility of doing their homework. With young children that are just learning how to do homework, parents need to work closely with their children and teachers. Written homework assignments may be sent home which requires a parent’s signature, so be sure to look in backpacks and school folders. Also, schools may post homework assignments on a computer site which can be checked on by parents and children.

If your child is having trouble completing homework assignments in a reasonable amount of time or seems discouraged or frustrated, it is very necessary for parents to contact teachers at the beginning of the year. Since each child is an individual, it is necessary for you to address this with the teacher directly. It is better to do this at the beginning of the year rather than wait until it becomes a real problem. Conference times can be set up with the teacher through the school so that homework time can be a positive experience.

As parents and grandparents, being a facilitator and encourager for a child doing homework is so much needed. Praise and a hug for a child, whether young or old, mean so very much. Taking time with your children to see what their assignments require makes you a winning team. Playing learning games — such as spelling tests, math facts, history and science quizzes — with your children helps prepare them for tests and can make homework fun. These can be done as you go to and from school. 

It is important to let your child know that homework is just not “busy” work but it is a brain booster and a very important part of learning that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. 

Readers, Aug. 9 is the birthday of Smokey the Bear. This recognizable animal symbol was created on Aug. 9, 1944, by the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council to promote forest fire prevention. I know we are always reminded of when we have seen Smokey the Bear pouring a bucket of water on a campfire and saying “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!” This week, Smokey the Bear is 79 years old.

Have a wonderful week. Happy school beginning! 

Pinyerd has taught young children in the early childhood classroom for many years. She holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Auburn University. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth and families in our community.  Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures and events by emailing donnapinyerd@charter.ent.