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Back to School Homework Tips
By Monica A. Consalvo

The lazy days of summer are ending and the school buses are set to roll in. It is time to set the alarms, gather our supplies and get ready to embark on an exciting new school year.

The first few weeks of school can be overwhelming and your child will need time to adjust to their new schedule and new routine.

· Be supportive of your child and listen to what she/he has to say.

· Provide a quiet place for homework.

· Choose a time for homework

CHOICE: It is essential that we provide choice for children. Allow them to decide when they would like to work on their homework. However the choice is not all theirs. Make the choices one you can live with. For example, "You can do your homework directly after school, after a brief 30 minute snack break or after some outside or computer time (45 minutes to 1 hour).

In my opinion, it is best to get homework done BEFORE dinnertime. This reduces last minute chaos and makes evening time an opportunity to gather as a family and do something fun. Once your child has decided on their time, put it directly onto the calendar and stick to it. That means no errands during this time, no excuses. This will be a "blessing in disguise," trust me!

· If your child states that there is no homework, have your child read during the homework time. Typically a middle school student has about 1-2 hours of homework a night (this may differ and increase as your child gets older) Students should spend 5-10 minutes each night reviewing concepts learned in class. This will prepare students for the next day's lesson.

· Be sure your child is equipped with the appropriate supplies. Have a designated spot in the house where extra supplies are kept. Some trusty old favorites to have on hand can include:

Pens/pencils/ markers and colored pencils/ruler/compass/calculator/scissors
Computer paper, lined paper, 2 pocket color folders
(Colors help, assign each subject it's own color)
Oak tag/index cards/ post its (great for marking up texts or novels which student's cannot write in)

Have him/her use an assignment notebook so she/he knows what homework is required each day. I like to call this their "life", that they can keep track of their assignments and upcoming tests. This is a skill that they will carry over to their adult lives as well.

If your child is struggling with homework please make the teacher aware. Children should typically not spend more than 20-30 minutes on a given assignment. If the child is working longer make a note of it and have your child seek out the teacher the next day during extra help, before class or during review time. Providing your child with the answers and having them turn in a "perfect" paper will not help your child in the long run.

Check out teacher websites too! Most teachers have them and they can provide what long range projects children will be working on, some even post daily homework, and some allow for downloads of recent handouts and assignments.

Remember to pack up all supplies, books and assignments the night before. Make sure all notices are signed and put into the backpack as well. Place the backpack by the door, ready for your child to take in the morning. No more phone calls for forgotten items in the morning. J

As a last note, remember that consistency, structure and organization are essential for success. Being prepared makes your child feel less overwhelmed and will make their school experience positive.

Monica A. Consalvo is a middle school special educator for the Port Jefferson School District in New York. She can be reached at mconsalv@portjeff.k12.ny.us

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