By Third-Grade Teacher Polly Holzman
Picture this: It is 7:55 a.m. You are running out the door, hastily grabbing backpacks, lunch boxes, and jackets. You get in the car, pull out of the driveway, and make your way towards school. You breathe a sigh of relief that you are going to make it to school on time, only to hear from the backseat, “I forgot my reading book,” or “I didn’t do my social studies homework,” or “where is the math test you were supposed to sign?” Of course, it is too late to fix any of these things now, but you are left wondering how you can help your child remember to do these things before you are five minutes away from school. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you are not alone.
One of the three pillars at Heilicher is to “be responsible.” While we all have good intentions of making sure homework is complete, lunches and snacks are in backpacks, and everyone has what they need before leaving for school, it is often easier said than done. At school, teachers work with students to instill a sense of responsibility by holding children accountable for their work, behavior, and actions. Here are some tips for how parents can help support good study habits at home:
- Create a routine. When it comes to kids (and all of us, really), consistency is key. When they know what to expect, and follow the pattern every day, their behavior becomes a habit. Maybe the routine is that once kids get home from school and have a snack, they work on their homework before dinner. Perhaps part of the routine is after brushing their teeth and putting on pajamas, they read for twenty minutes before bed. Whatever the routine is, do it as consistently as possible so that children know that this is the norm.
- Get organized. Make sure children have what they need so that when they do sit down to do their homework, they aren’t sidetracked by needing to search the house for a sharp pencil, markers, or glue. Keep a bin of basic school supplies stocked where children can easily find them. And on that topic…
- Designate a study area. The ideal study area will be free of distractions and have all materials a child might need. The best place to do homework is probably not on the couch, in front of the TV or in the kitchen while someone is cooking dinner. It is nice for a child to have a quiet area with a desk and chair or another comfortable space suited for productivity.
- Set a positive example. In my house, the motto is “Do what you have to do, then do what you want to do.” When students see you shoveling the sidewalk, taking out the trash, or folding the laundry, they learn that everyone in the family has responsibilities, and they take care of them right away. Before they can watch TV or play on the iPad, homework must be complete.
While it takes time to establish and practice good study habits, small changes can go a long way in helping students become more responsible. Next time you are getting ready to leave for school, wouldn’t you love to hear, “I have all my homework done. Can we get to school early today?!”