The Search Institute has identified a personal ‘commitment to learning,’ and specifically ‘homework completion’ as one of the developmental assets that increase a student’s life-long success. Middle school students are learning to become independent. By the time students graduate middle school, they can be well on their way to homework independence or still having daily homework power struggles with parents. November Parent/Teacher Conferences are a great time to talk with teachers about your child’s homework completion habits.
Many parents play a major role in homework completion in elementary school and need to learn to modify their own behavior to encourage their child’s independence and ultimately their success as they move through middle school. Parents can better prepare their children for high school by allowing them to be responsible for their academic successes and failures. Below are suggestions for managing this transition process.
Parents of middle school students should:
1. Provide an environment conducive to learning (supplies, lighting, etc).
2. Create a nightly homework routine that suits your family and your children.
3. Encourage your child to check Pinnacle regularly and talk with teachers if they don’t understand their homework or the requirements of a long-term assignment.
4. Monitor the number of after-school activities your child participates in. Students who are overextended may not recognize this themselves and may need encouragement to reduce outside obligations and concentrate on homework.
5. Celebrate success. Ask your child to share one assignment with you each week that they are especially proud of. Do not focus on the grade, but rather their creativity for example. Ask how they came to conclusions, chose topics, or worked with other students.
6. Contact your child’s teacher, counselor, school social worker, or psychologist if you have concerns. Ask for their perspective and suggestions.
7. Don’t forget to take advantage of the Homework Help support on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3:20 pm – 4:20 pm in the Brownell Library.
If parents notice inconsistent homework completion, below average grades, or are having regular arguments about homework; a formal homework plan may help. To create a formal homework plan:
1. Speak to your child in private. Acknowledge your child’s frustrations about the constant homework battle. Listen to their point of view. Honestly, but calmly, share your concerns as well.
2. Ask your child to share their own personal expectations regarding grades, long-term goals, and academic success. Share your thoughts and negotiate realistic academic goals.
3. Brainstorm possible solutions. Seriously consider your child’s proposed solutions, even if they seem silly to you. Sometimes giving a little will result in huge gains. Contracts work best when children feel they have played a major role in development.
4. Discuss and agree upon consequences that will occur if expectations are not met. Make sure consequences maintain your child’s dignity while increasing chances for academic success; such as reduced time in after-school or social activities, use of tutor, or Homework Help.
5. Use Pinnacle and report card grades as benchmarks to determine success. Give the plan some time to work and resist the temptation to revert to old patterns of arguing, threatening, or predicting doom between benchmarks.
6. Put all agreements in writing!
SAMPLE HOMEWORK PLAN
Below is a scenario that provides an example of how to set up a homework plan:
Nick, Mom, and Dad all want Nick to succeed at school. Nick would like to be more responsible for completing his work and is tired of the constant nagging and reminders from Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad would like to back off and let Nick be responsible and want to see his effort rewarded with good grades. Nick, Mom, and Dad have agreed to the following School Success Plan:
Nick agrees to:
1. Keep his GPA at 3.0 or higher, and earn nothing below a C on quarterly report cards.
2. Complete at least 1 hour of homework every Sunday through Thursday after sports practice.
3. Ask his teacher, Mom or Dad, or a friend if he doesn’t understand something in his homework.
4. Socialize with friends only on Friday nights and Saturday.
5. Limit his video games and TV to no more than 1 hour each day.
Mom and Dad agree to:
1. Stop reminding Nick about completing his homework, or questioning him about assignments or grades.
2. Let Nick play and practice sports and enjoy TV and video games for no more than 1 hour a night.
3. Let Nick socialize with friends on Friday evening and during the day on Saturday.
Nick, Mom, and Dad will re-evaluate this plan at each marking period and make changes if needed.
Checklist for Parents
Here are some suggestions to help monitor your child’s progress:
· Check Schoology once or twice a week. Sign up for parent e-mail alerts to make you aware of important information.
· Be familiar with teacher Schoology pages, calendars, and assignments that are posted weekly.
· The student planner should be filled out and brought home daily.
· Monitor how much time your son/daughter is spending on homework.
· Plan on attending Parent/Teacher Conferences even if your child is performing well.
· If your child struggles with organization, help them create an organizational system
· Contact your child’s counselor if you have any questions or need additional assistance.