Keep homework top of mind during spring

Don’t give up on homework now, the end of the school year is in sight!

The end of the school year is approaching and the demands on your children’s time are multiplying as fast as their homework assignments. Teachers are plowing through the curriculum, tests in every subject seem to multiply and happen all at once, practice time for end-of-year music recitals and other performances is stepped up, and outdoor activities like soccer leagues and tennis programs are getting underway.

Not to mention that the weather is finally warm enough to really enjoy being outside and having fun, often the only thing children really want to do at this time of year.

But homework is still important, say educators, especially since no matter how well kids did in the early part of the school year, under Education Department guidelines, this final term counts for 60 per cent of a student’s final mark. It’s a thought that stresses many parents and even some children.

“At this time of year, who doesn’t want to go play outside?” said Raizel Candib, principal at Merton Elementary. “It’s a constant struggle, something that’s been going on forever.”

If you have children enrolled in their school’s extended-day homework program, this might be a time you see a real benefit, Candib says. By the time your children get home, all, or at least most, of the homework should be done and the kids should be free to go out and enjoy a few hours of daylight.

If they’re not in a scheduled homework program, she advises giving children a little break to run around after school and not make them start homework immediately.

After that, Candib said, it’s a matter of organizing and not overscheduling children in activities that make too many demands on their time.

Going to a neighbourhood school is great at this time of year, says Carolyn Melmed, an educational consultant. The walk home gives kids both a break from school work and a chance to be outdoors.

Melmed offers no magic bullet to help students get through the final push of the school year. She suggests parents continue to use a combination of encouragement and discipline to get their kids through.

“It’s worth articulating to children that this term is worth 60 per cent,” she said. Then referring to all the distractions at this time of year, she added, “Ironically, this is when they have to focus the most.”

She also recommends that parents encourage their students to stay focused in class. “Study in school with the teacher,” she said, that way you’ll know exactly what the homework is, know how to do it and need less time to complete it. This approach also results in students having to spend less time reviewing for tests.

Homework guide for parents

Quebec’s Education Department has published a new homework guide for parents and guardians that has learning tips for any time of year.

The guide, Homework and Studying, Supporting and Guiding My Child, suggests strategies on how to support and encourage children with homework and learning, when and how to communicate with the school and teachers, and what to do if there’s a problem. It also has a bibliography of further reading and ways to look for more resources when you need them.  Click here for the complete guide.