It’s back to school time.
Stores are full of parents are who torn between enthusiasm and exhaustion. Walking around with school lists on their screens, they are the ones trying to herd children lulled to colorful “must haves” not on the list.
With energy poured into preparing for school to start, we often miss creating the environment to help our children succeed for the new school year. Most of us usually plan to continue the routines we had the year before.
Sometimes that works, until it doesn’t.
By the time we realize the old system doesn’t work, we are deep in projects, carting the kids off to band practice or getting ready for football games. Identifying ways to help empower our children to take ownership of their learning is essential for all mommas with children of all ages. Because it is never too early to start and it is never too late to make changes.
Establish clear routines
As someone who naturally loves to organize and plan, creating a homework routine based upon what I think we should do is natural. But I challenge you NOT to build the routine on your own. Get everyone involved as early in the school year as possible.
As a family discuss:
- When should homework be completed?Will your child have a break first? Start immediately after school? Take breaks for snacks? Regardless of what you choose, the key is to be consistent. Set a time you will be able to enforce the routine.
- Where will homework be completed?Think about the learning style of your child. Does your child need silence? Or need music? Sitting? Or standing? Remember, there is not a right or wrong approach. If the environment is not helping your child to complete the homework, then make adjustments.
Creating a routine will vary depending upon the season of your home. What works when your children are not playing sports or are doing well academically may not work when your child is engaged in after-school sports. Reflecting on the success of the routine for everyone is vital. Don’t be afraid to change the routine if it is not working.
There is a fine line between over managing and enabling negative behavior. Teaching our children to take ownership for their learning will depend on their maturity, ability, learning style, even temperament. Always have an ear open to the Holy Spirit to guide us on what decisions are best for our children based upon the moment and be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to shake up the routine.
Create a homework schedule
After establishing the routine for learning, as a family, you want to create the homework routine. This routine will be fluid depending upon the workload for your child.
When your child comes home from school, spend time chatting about what work the student will need to complete for the week. Looking at the work, allow your child to talk with you about how he/she thinks the work should get done.
For example, if your first grader receives homework for the week, take a look at the work with your child allowing your child to explain the assignments. Ask how your child will complete the work on time. Of course, you will need to give guidance from a different perspective, but you get your child thinking about how to manage their time.
For children in grades 3 and up, allow them to give input to the homework schedule based on their progress from the previous year. What worked? What didn’t? What did they learn? Based upon this discussion, decide on a timetable for completing work. This will vary based upon the amount of homework. Each day allow your child to create their checklist which includes breaks along with other time constraints. Showing children HOW to create a list helps them self-monitor their progress while encouraging them to take ownership of their learning. Over time, they will look less to us to tell them what to do and will be able to be responsible.
Our words play a significant role in guiding our children to take ownership of their learning. Use language which reinforces our children are capable of doing the hard things and making wise decisions. You can use words of praise to reinforce “doing.” These are statements and messages that refer to the actions our children “can” do, that speak to their potential, and their gifts. The more we use “doing” language then we set the example of the inner dialogue for our children.
For example, tell your child:
- “I know this was hard for you, but you decided not to give up.”
- “You did a great job coming home prepared.”
- “I can see you are concerned about your progress in class—you put in a lot of effort to make improvements.”
- “Thank you for using your words to talk about how you are feeling.”
- “I know you can do this.”