Blog #8- Homework: final episode


If you have had the discussion with your student and taken a week or so to brainstorm some approaches to support the homework struggle,  and agreed on what approaches would be best to address first, you will be ready for the next step; Initiating the plan.
Please keep in mind that this entire process is non-confrontational.  Use Socratic questioning described is an earlier blog.  Without attacking faulty reasoning, ask for the thought process that supports the conclusions.  Make an attempt to understand the reasoning behind the conclusions.  No meaningful change happens without a buy-in.  Allowing your student to be part of the planning and decision-making process is the buy-in needed for long term changes.

Possible choices for long term solutions:

  1.       Creating a study area;  A study area does not need to be in the bedroom.  If a student shares a room or if the room is too small, think about making a study space in the hall or in the basement, attic or breeze way.  Elicit the help of the student in picking out a table/desk, chair, filing system, book case. Perhaps these are options that are in the house and not getting regular use, or can be secured from tag sales (it is fun to go with your student and have a common goal when browsing), on line from Ikea or the like, or perhaps a neighbor that is not using furniture as their kids are older and gone.  Be creative in your quest.  It need not cost a lot of money, if any.  
  2.           White Board on the wall:  One suggestion is a white board....large; at least 18 in by 24 in. ; larger if your student 's writing is spread out.  Divide the white board in half with a sharpie.  Label one "Schedule"  in one color sharpie and the other side " Long Term Planning" in another color sharpie.  
  3.           Create a schedule:  For each day, list the days in a sharpie and the times and activities in a washable marker as schedules change.  Be specific and detailed.  List time to get up, shower, get dressed, have breakfast as a block of time.  List time to leave for school.  Block off school time.  Begin again with after school activities.  Each day is listed.  Arrival time a home.  Snack time.  Block off times for school work before diner (if there is time on a given day) and after diner.  Is diner time the same each day?  Be sure to block off time for preparing for school the next day, before bed.   Discuss when clothes should be chosen, when  the back pack should be prepared, and where it should be placed so it is not forgotten.  Ask about whether reminders should be written on the white board for the next day; ie, bring long sweat pants in case of rain.This notation "Do reminders" should be entered on the schedule along with "Transfer long term assignments"  My suggestion is that this be done before homework is started.  
  4. Enter long term assignments:  The white board is divided into two sections.  One is listed "Long Term Assignments"  Unfortunately, in most planners, students write notations for projects that are due in two weeks, on the day it is assigned. or on the day it is due. That notation is lost from sight until, all of a sudden, usually at the last minute, it appears when the page is turned. To avoid this, I recommend that students take time each day to check the days assignments and transfer any assignment that is not due the next day to the "Long Term Planning" side of the white board.  They will see it each day.  It also helps with meta-cognition as the students are thinking about their goals for the project, the steps they need and the material they may want to use.  They can then add to the "notes" side what they need to buy or any ideas about the project.  
  5. Lastly, it may be necessary to speak with one or more teacher/s and share  the work  you and your student are doing together.   This should only be done with permission from the student and, if possible, have the student join you in the meeting.  Students may, at the beginning, need some accommodations to support the efforts at home.  For example; it may be helpful for the teacher to write the assignment on the board in addition to announcing it to the class; it could help to give your student the assignment on a written page of assignments for the week so they could be entered at home all at once;  or a rubric, if the teacher does not use one, could be helpful in giving some clarity to a larger project.  Also, recognition by the teacher to the student for any positive effort or successes is very important.  That is another reason to share with the teacher what you are doing at home.
I would image that all of this sounds like wishful thinking.  No student will do all of this.  It is true.  Habits are built over time.  Try doing it for one subject, perhaps the one that most often is problematic.  Ask your student if he/she would like help when arriving home.  Together you can figure out how the system works.

Success is addictive.....one of my favorite sayings.  The 'Hook" is the results.  The buy-in comes from the collaborative process and is maintained with the success.

Please let me know how any of this process works for you.  I have been using it with students for many years and never known, at least some aspect of it, to foster changes in attitude and process.  The best part is that most students begin to adopt, on their own, what works for them and 'tweek' it if they feel it is  needed.  Adding their own steps is very exciting to watch.  Your enthusiasm and belief in them can make a huge difference.  Mistakes will happen.  Lapses of memory, accidentally or on purpose, will occur.  But we shake it off and try again.  With your support and positive approach, they will succeed, because as Ross Greene says, no student plans to fail today at school.

 Thank you for sharing your experiences and questions with me.  Please continue to share with me  your questions or concerns.  I hope I have addressed them  in subsequent blogs, sufficiently. 

j






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