Parents Universal Resource Experts: Summer Homework

Is your teen in summer school?  Connect with Kids offers an interesting article regarding academics and your child’s summer time.  The parenting tips are definitely worth reviewing.

summerhomeworkSource: Connect with Kids

“It is wonderful for that to be a relaxing time and I fully agree that all kids need time to relax.  But they may not need two or three solid months of no exposure to books or information or math.”

– Joanne Max, Ph.D., Psychologist, explaining that a little bit of summer homework is a good thing.

<!–a href=”#” target=”_blank”></a–>Studies from three different universities are confirming what some educators have called “the summer brain drain”: the two months worth of knowledge kids lose over the summer.  Keeping them academically busy over the summer is one answer, but it is controversial.

While some kids spend their summer playing, straight-‘a’ students Grace and Mark will be reading, reading, and reading some more. 

Not because they want to, though.  It’s a school assignment.

“The whole summer I’m not really just enjoying it and thinking school’s out,” says Mark, 13, “I’m thinking ‘oh I have to read those books then go back to school.”

“Ideally my summer would be where I got to do what I wanted to do and kind of not worry about academics so much,” adds 15-year-old Grace.

Even some parents and educators agree.  “There’s no time to recharge.  It seem like a lot of their time is being sucked up,” says Author and education expert Adam Robinson.

“They need a break,” agrees Mark and Grace’s mother, Mary Loveland, “Just like they need a break on weekends, they need a break in the summer.  To be kids.  Because I don’t think we let them be kids.”

Still, experts say summer homework is a trend that’s unlikely to go away.  So parents should first:  Keep it in perspective and explain to the child that a little bit of summer homework is a good thing.

“It was wonderful for that to be a relaxing time and I fully agree that all kids need time to relax,” says Joanne Max, Ph.D., a psychologist, “But they may not need two or three solid months of no exposure to books or no information or math.”

Second:  Help them budget their time.  Even Mark says his summer homework would be much less of a hassle if he did a little each day. “But I usually cram it in on the last few weeks,” he admits.

Tips for Parents

Whether homework is assigned during the school year, or as a “summer bridge” between grades, parents can help their children get it done. In fact, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) says parents can help their children academically, even if homework is not assigned. The AFT describes the home as “a child’s first school” and recommends spending a little time each day on reading, writing and math activities.

According to the U. S. Department of Education, students and parents should expect the following amounts of homework:

  • From kindergarten to third grade, no more than 20 minutes per day.
  • From fourth to sixth grade, between 20 to 40 minutes per day.
  • From seventh to ninth grade, students can expect to spend up to two hours on homework each day.
  • High school students often need to study more than two hours each day.

The American Medical Association has some specific suggestions on ways parents can help children with homework:

  • Help them get organized – It can be hard to schedule homework time into our kids’ busy lives, but that is exactly what we must do. Prioritizing homework tells your kids that learning, reading and studying are important. If you need to, post a weekly calendar with slots for daily homework time.
  • Help them find the right workspace – Where your child should do homework depends largely on your child’s age. The workspace should be well lighted and supplied with pencils, paper, rulers and books so kids don’t waste time hunting for tools. The kitchen or dining room table is the most popular workspace for young children.
  • Let the child do the work – Young children in particular are accustomed to being helped with many tasks, so they naturally look to parents for help with homework. Remember that a primary goal of homework is to build responsibility. Here, yours is a supporting role as a parent, encouraging your child to think, evaluate and respond. Parents can help the child understand instructions but should then step back and let the child work independently. It is important that a parent does not actually do the work because this denies the child an essential sense of achievement. Praise should be focused on the child’s effort, rather than on “correct” or “incorrect.”
  • Be a parent, not a teacher – The most important role parents can play is as a parent. It is important not to become the teacher at home. The parent can scan the assignment first to become familiar with it. That way, if the child has trouble finding the answer, the parent can offer a clue and then let the child find the answer. This approach helps build the child’s confidence that he/she can, indeed, do the work on his/her own. Parents should be ready with praise when the assignment is completed.
  • Final Checkout – Parents should check homework assignments for completion before they are handed in. This not only gives you an indication of your child’s ability, but it also keeps you up-to-date on what he/she is studying. If you do find errors, don’t criticize. If your child is really struggling, send a note to the teacher pointing out the difficulties your child had with that assignment. By going over homework with your child, you can see whether there are any problems that need to be addressed.

The AFT also recommends that parents reward their children for work well done, or for trying hard, even when they make mistakes. The rewards don’t have to cost money. A hug or a smile and some words of praise can mean more than candy or a toy.

References

  • American Federation of Teachers
  • American Medical Association
  • U.S. Department of Education
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