Back to School 2005 - 7 Strategies for Turning Homework into Family Fun


4. Reverse Roles A teachers' secret: Most of what we know, we learned through teaching. Having your child teach you a skill or concept he's learned will greatly improve his understanding. If you're feeling brave, let him give you a test afterward. He'll use high-level thinking skills to create the test, and he'll love the opportunity to correct your work when you're finished.

5. Customize Lessons An added benefit of trying different study techniques is that you and your child will gain valuable information about the way he learns best. When my son Gabe was a second grader struggling with vowel combinations in his spelling words, I made cards that left the problem letters blank (like hangman) and had him fill them in. The extra step helped him to remember. A few weeks later, I saw that Gabe had made some cards himself. It was a sign that he was taking responsibility for his own learning. Some kids need visual cues, some auditory and others hands-on experience and movement. Experimenting with different techniques is something you and your child can do together.

Tip: Talk to the Teacher. The teacher probably doesn't know you spent three frustrating hours trying to complete an assignment with your child. In her mind, the prospect of a first grader making an origami crane sounded like great fun. Let teachers know the reality of what homework sessions are like at home. If there is a problem, communication will help both of you identify the cause and a solution. (Besides, if you don't say anything, next time it might be an entire origami menagerie.) Educators know that children in the elementary grades should not be spending long hours on homework each night, and most elementary teachers will be willing to adjust assignments to fit the needs of individual students.

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