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Homework Woes

Mrs. Mimi's Chalk Talks

Homework WoesHomework used to be the bane of my existence. I’m pretty sure my little friends felt the same way too. I had a laundry list of complaints about homework. Again, I’m pretty sure my little friends did as well. 

However, homework is not going anywhere, so let’s try to tackle some of those issues on the teacher side of things, shall we?


Problem #1: I hate thinking up homework assignments each and every week.


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This one is easy! Start filing people! Whether your school or grade level encourages more authentic homework assignments or skill based packets of worksheets, get out those file folders and a Sharpie or open up some new folders on your desktop. Save an entire hard copy of each homework assignment and file it either by month, or by subject matter – whatever works best for you. 

It’s not too late to start even though it’s October. Get started now and you’ll thank me later. If you are more electronically inclined, open up a series of folders on your desktop and start saving homework assignments digitally. And if you are a super nerd like me, you’ll do both. That way you can spend a few minutes tweaking old assignments each year, but don’t have to spend all that time reinventing the wheel.


Problem #2: I hate collecting homework each and every day.


I taught first and second grades, so this was a HUGE problem for me. It was like starting off each day on the sourest note I could think of. “Good morning sweetheart! Where is your homework?” 

One day I decided enough was enough and I began only collecting homework on Monday mornings. After sending out a note to parents reviewing the new policy, and spending quite a bit of classroom time going over the change, we made the transition. And it was truly beautiful. Once I made collecting homework a classroom job, and allowed my friends to remove packets, check off names and re-stuff folders with new homework packets, life suddenly looked a lot better. 


Problem #3: I hate finding the time to grade homework, on top of everything else.


Sometimes, grading homework is not at the top of your list. I know it was never at the top of mine. Yet, it still needs to get done. (Or else you end up with those dreaded piles that we talked about last week!) There are a few options here.

One year, I tried having a sixth grade volunteer correct my homework packets for me. After some training, she did a fabulous job! 

However, if that’s not an option for you, try breaking the load up into more manageable pieces. Do ten today and ten tomorrow. Try correcting a few during your commute (assuming you’re not driving!). Set aside one lunch a week where you correct while you eat. Basically I’m saying set a plan and stick to it! Don’t let those homework packets become the dreaded pile that will just continue to haunt you. 


Problem #4: I hate thinking of new ways to motivate kids to just get it done!


I mean, let’s be real, you can only take away so much recess time before you realize that it’s not working. I had a child who never would have seen the light of day if I had kept that system in place. So I tried changing my frown upside down and making my system based largely on positive rewards, rather than punitive action. 


For example:


  • Give away a Homework Pass good for one night (or one week) free of homework every time a child turns in a certain number of completed assignments.


  • Pick a Homework Star of the week to hold up as an example. Kids love being praised and it shows a good example for other children. 


  • Host a Lunch Date with children who have completed twenty homework assignments. You can buy a pizza or simply have them bring their lunches upstairs- they just really enjoy the one on one time with you.


  • Create a simple Homework Chart and put a stamp after a child’s name for each completed assignment. Perhaps every five or ten stamps, they get to visit your treasure box.


  • Every month, give away a special homework supply to friends who completed a certain number of assignments. One month it could be a new pencil or eraser, another month it could be a box of crayons or a fancy new folder- whatever is on sale! (Money saving hint – I also used to ask parents to donate these Wish List items, or solicited them from sites such as Donor’s Choose.)


How do you make homework more bearable? Share in the comments section!


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