It’s hard to believe but it’s been 3 years since I started to set up our home for “school kids” although they are at school from when they started school and for the next 18 years there will be some constants. One of them is homework of some description, in reception/kinder year it was word lists, reading books and logs as well as at home challenges and as they progress through school changing to regular homework for each subject. To help them with this we have set up a homework station in the house – a place where homework can be carried out, all the resources are available to help them plus some extra things that make some of the tasks that they will be set in these early years easier.
We don’t have a dedicated room for homework to be carried out and at the moment with the kids being the age they are we do homework in our family areas so when we designed the homework station 3 years ago it needed to be something that we could store easily and then bring out as well. As a teacher before having kids, I drew on the advice we gave to new parents for the year group as well the tips that I have gained over the last few years with my kids.
Set a time aside to do homework
Not exactly a resource for a homework station but as important as anything else that you could do or provide. The homework may not be a lot – reading for 10 mins or learning some phonics/sight words but setting aside a time to do it is important and something that it is best to get children in the habit of is doing it on the day that it comes home and not the night before it’s due in. We set aside time on a Saturday morning to complete the weekend homework, at the moment, both of the kids need me or my husband to sit with them and make sure that they understand the question as well as stay on focus.
Provide an area to do homework in
This is the homework station – for us it will be our dining room table but you may have a different location – however until my children are much older and we can fit desks into their bedrooms or have a study homework will be completed here. Setting aside a location that has a proper chair and a table rather than on their lap is important for helping to develop good work habits early on and will support their writing. If you have space then a table/desk that is a suitable height for the kids will help to establish a good pose for writing and help their handwriting as well. We don’t have this luxury so when they were little even though they didn’t need it for eating at the table I used to boost them up with a couple of cushions.
Have the resources ready for homework
We have materials out most of the time for the kids, however, you can bet that when it comes to homework time there is never any of what we need so I have put together homework pencil cases especially for homework time. They contain everything that I could think of the kids needing and now both kids are in school they have one each. In there are pencils, handwriting pens, crayons, coloured pens, markers, pencil sharpener, erasers, sticky tape, glue stick, ruler, scissor and some pencil grippers which are left over from when we first started out and wanted to help the kids to start to write properly.
Have a location to put new and finished homework
As a teacher each lesson when homework was due in I heard the excuses – I thought it was due in tomorrow, I lost it, I forgot to put it in my bag and yes I even heard my dog ate part of it (accompanied by a heavily chewed piece of homework that the dog had obviously eaten). So our first task was where to put it so that the kids never had that excuse. I got a set of trays from Ikea and we use them – a tray each and then a spare one for all of the school letters. It works really well.
Record when the homework is due in
This works whether the kids are little or whether they are much older. Yes, I said above to do homework when it arrives home but over time, you work out that Friday Night isn’t a good night to do homework the kids are shattered and need a break. Monday night for us is difficult as well now as the kids have started swimming lessons! So instead of relying on the kids to memorise when homework is due in I record it on the calendar and can see when it is available.
As a secondary school teacher, one of the pieces of advice I gave the parents of teenagers is talking to the kids about what homework they have been given each day and together record when it is due in. It gives you an opportunity to talk about what is going on in lessons and hopefully, the homework should give you an idea of the work that they have been doing in class which can extend the after school questions. And that leads us onto the last point of a homework station Participating in the homework.
Participating in homework
No – don’t do the homework for the kids but be there helping with the reading, learning phonics and words and anything else that needs to be done – this doesn’t mean to do it for your child instead it’s more of a helping them to work it out themselves and helping when they get stuck.
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