Happy Holidays! The calendar has finally caught up with the TV commercials. So, what does that look like for kids still in school for one more month and families still dealing with homework? Younger children get increasingly excited. Teens get busy with social events. Class routines get disrupted with art projects, assemblies, and special program rehearsals. All good stuff – except when it comes to homework! For the next month, it will be harder for kids to settle down to do homework and more difficult to find time to fit it in.
Here are a few key ways to keep kids on track all the way until winter break:
1. Keep the homework routine
2. Acknowledge, then move ahead
3. Make it fun
Keep the Homework Routine
If your homework routine has begun to fall by the wayside, re-establish it and make it non-negotiable. Students fight things less when they’re “set in stone.” Have a designated time and place for doing homework. Even if you can’t set the same time every day due to activities, create a schedule for the week that everyone can see and must adhere to.
Acknowledge, then Move Ahead
Kids will naturally be more distracted and excited at this time of year. We can’t make them not feel this way and really wouldn’t want to, so it’s important to acknowledge where they are and then move forward to what they need to do. Here’s how this might look:
For a younger student:
“You’re super-excited, aren’t you? This is a fun time of year. Right now, it’s homework time. How about if I help you get started?”
For an older student:
“You’re anxious to talk to Sara about the party Saturday night, aren’t you? It sounds like it’s going to be really fun! Right now, it’s the time we’ve agreed on to do homework. Why don’t you put a reminder in your phone to call Sara as soon as you’re done?”
Make it Fun
Take advantage of the season. For example, if you’re studying times tables, spelling words, or vocabulary with your child, you might put them on index cards and then separate them into Santa’s “naughty” and “nice” piles. Be a little silly. Put the cards the student knows in the “nice” pile: “Yay – that one gets a present this year!” “Awesome! This one goes in the nice pile!” The cards the student doesn’t know go in the “naughty” pile: “Boo – he was bad this year!” “No presents for him!” This takes the emphasis off the student not knowing certain facts or words, and puts the blame – in a fun way – on the fact/word itself. Be sure to go back and practice the “naughty” cards and try to transfer them to the other pile.
“How about if you test out what I’ve been baking after you finish this assignment?”
Play Christmas/holiday music in the background.
Choose a Christmas/holiday story for the nightly reading.
Be creative, have fun, acknowledge and enjoy the excitement, and keep your routine!
Jill Stowell, M.S., is the Founder and Executive Director of Stowell Learning Centers, Inc. She is also the author of At Wit’s End: A Parent’s Guide to Ending the Struggle, Tears and Turmoil of Learning Disabilities. Learn more at www.LearningDisability.com.