You’ve probably noticed the trend: homework is coming earlier and earlier in school these days. Even in kindergarten and first grade, it’s not unusual for kids to come home with packets several nights a week!
The trick, of course, is finding ways to fit this homework into your home routine. The tried and true advice we've all heard is to set up a quiet study area, and set aside as much time as possible on a regular basis. But for many kids, there’s still an obstacle: at this age, they are just beginning to develop a concept of time. For them, “fifteen minutes” or even "one hour" may not mean anything. They only see a thick packet—and they panic. Here's something that can help your child put his work into perspective. First grade is a great time to start, but don’t be surprised if this “homework magnet board” remains a helpful family tool right through middle school!
This magnet board is a great way to create a “strategic plan” for your child’s after school hours, all the way up 'til bedtime.
What You Need:
- Small white board (8"x10” works just great)
- Permanent marker
- Flexible, flat stick-on magnets, available at craft or office store
- Fine-tip whiteboard marker that can be wiped off
What You Do:
- Use the permanent marker to write a title at the top of the whiteboard. Leave a space for the date.
- Select about 6 magnets from the magnet pack. Help your child cut each one in half lengthwise, so that you have a long, thin pieces.
- Return to the white board. Beneath the title, create a strategic chart of the afternoon with each afterschool hour marked and divided into 20-minute intervals. Each 20-minute interval should be the width of one of your cut magnets; a regular, uncut magnet will represent 40 minutes. Here’s an example to get you started:
- With your child’s help, use the permanent marker to label your different magnets. Make several 20-minute magnets for "Homework," but also make one for “Snack," for "Dinner", and so forth. If an activity takes longer than 20 minutes, you can use a longer magnet for 40 minutes, or add a thick and thin set to make sixty. (Note: You may also want to do some color coding here with a certain color representing snack, another for homework, etc.)
- If you have advanced notice about homework, you can plan an afternoon the night before; otherwise, you can work at the kitchen table right when school ends or even in the car on the fly. Whatever you choose, help your child schedule the rest of her day by placing magnets where they belong. In the process, be sure to point out scale: when you get down to homework, there's great news: it does not need to take the entire day!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school history and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.