10 Helpful Homework Tips For Middle Schoolers

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These Homework Tips will Take the Fire out of the Homework Wars!



Introduction

The homework tips presented on this page are targeted at the three key people who are most directly involved--you, as the teacher, the kids in your classes, and the parents who must deal with them at home.

As teachers, we all know that homework is good for kids for a variety of reasons that don't need to be enumerated here.

Although parents recognize the long-term benefits of homework, they aren’t any happier about the daily struggle to get it done. In the homework wars (“Sit down and do your homework now!” “Stop nagging me!”), parents often times must shoulder the responsibility of making sure that it gets done regularly and on time.

And the kids?

We ALL know how they feel about homework.

The mere utterance of this word causes them to grimace and writhe in disgust. They hate it. We all know that. But, we all know that it's essential to their academic success.

What follows on this page are some homework tips from Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology at Duke University who studies homework.

Additionally, I have prepared some documents based on his suggestions that may be useful to you. These documents may be downloaded free of charge.

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You may use the following quick links to go directly to what interests you on this page. You may also scroll down the page manually if you choose to do so.

Tips for Teachers
Tips for Parents
Tips for Students
Sample Homework Documents
Homework ChartsFree Download
Conclusion

Homework Tips for Teachers

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Give the right amount of homework.

Research suggests students should get about 10 minutes of homework each night for each grade (10 minutes for 1st grade, 20 for 2nd, and so on). Adjust upward a bit if assignments are mostly reading or your students come from families with strong educational orientations.

Don’t overload kids with homework. It can ruin motivation.

Keep parents informed. Let parents know the purpose of homework and what your class rules are.

If communication is clear, homework is an important bridge between schools and families. If communication is lacking, homework creates tensions that are hard to resolve.

Vary the kinds of homework. Homework is a great way for kids to practice things that are learned by rote (spelling, math facts, foreign language).

It's also a great way to show kids the things they learn in school apply to things they enjoy at home (calculating batting averages, reading the back of a cereal box). Mix it up.

Be careful about parent involvement. Consider the time and skill resources of parents when requiring their involvement. Working parents may have little time for a direct homework role. Poorly-educated parents may have trouble being good mentors.

Students who are doing well in school may benefit most from homework they do all by themselves.

Never give homework as punishment. It implies you think schoolwork is aversive. Kids will pick up on this.

Homework Tips for Parents

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1. Be a stage manager.

Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Make sure the needed materials (paper, pencils, dictionary) are available.

Unless the homework assignment involves using a computer, power down electronics and remove other unnecessary distractions.

2. Be a motivator.

Homework provides a great opportunity for you to tell your child how important school is. Be positive about homework.

The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.

3. Be a role model.

When your child does homework, don’t sit and watch TV. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.

Help your child see that the skills they are practicing are related to things you do as an adult.

4. Be a monitor.

Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration. If your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. If frustration sets in, suggest a short break.

5. Be a mentor.

When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it. If homework is meant to be done alone, stay away. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, life-long learning skills.

Over-involvement can be a bad thing.

Homework Tips for Students

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1. Pick a good time to do homework.
homework tips
Try to do your homework at the same time everyday--right after school, just before dinner, or right after dinner. Try not to leave homework until just before you have to go to bed.

2. Find a place that makes studying easy.

Collect up all the books and supplies you’ll need (and your snack) before you begin to work. Do your homework in the same place every day.

3. Spend more time on hard homework than easy homework.

If you know what’s easy and what's hard, do the hard work first. Take a short break if you are having trouble keeping your mind on an assignment.

4. If homework gets too hard, ask for help.

If your parents are busy and you have an older brother or sister, ask them for help, or get your parents to ask them. Only ask for help if you really need it.

5. Remember to make time for long-term projects.

Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates. If you need special stuff for a project, make sure to tell your parents to get it for you well in advance.

Sample Homework Documents

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What follows in the first part of this section is a collection of PDF documents that are suitable for printing and distributing to the concerned parties.
homework tips
I have set these up in a way that will allow you to add your own customized header, if you choose to do so.
homework tips
The screenshots that you will see here give you an idea of how each document is set up. Basically, the text of these documents is identical to what you were reading above.



Homework Charts

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The second part of this section is a collection of homework charts that may be useful for you, your kids, and their parents. These documents are also in the PDF format.

Here is the screenshot for the Homework Reading Log. You WILL be able to customize the header on this one.



Note: The final seven pages in this PDF package come from Free Printable Behavior Charts.com:

Here is a Checklist without Subjects.

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Here is a Checklist WITH Subjects.

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Here is a Weekly Log.

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This is the Homework Chart.

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This is the Checklist without Subjects.

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Here is the, "My Homework Chart."

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This is the Daily Assignment Sheet.

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Free Download

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All of the documents represented by the screenshots above are available in one PDF package, which I am offering completely free of charge.

As always, all I ask in return is that you support my efforts by sharing an idea with your fellow teachers on the Teachers' Ideas page and/or adding a comment to one of my blog entries at The Teacher Beacon.

Take a few seconds to click on my Facebook Like button, or take a minute or two to add a brief comment about one of the Daily Teaching Tools pages that you may have found useful.

Or, how about grabbing a T-shirt or coffee cup at The TeacherMarket? He__! If you really want to go all out, purchase one of my software products!

In the meantime, you may download the Homework Package here.

Conclusion

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A recent poll (August, 2013) of teachers and parents by AP/AOL Learning Services found that 63% of teachers and 57% of parents say that homework levels are about right.
homework tips
Although the poll did not include the opinions of students, I would suspect that 95% of them would say that homework levels are NOT about right.

Hopefully, the homework tips on this page will help you, your students, and their parents to be proactive and effective. I know that what I'm offering here is by no means a total solution, but I think it's a pretty good start.

If you get a minute, which is a challenge for all of us, let me know your thoughts on this. It would be great to hear from you.



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en españolLos diez mejores consejos sobre los deberes escolares

Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.

Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!

Here are some tips to guide the way:

  1. Know the teachersand what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
  2. Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
  3. Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
  4. Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
  5. Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
  6. Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
  7. Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
  8. Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
  9. Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
  10. If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.

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