I must admit I wasn’t totally surprised by his reaction as it’s not the first time I’ve had this conversation with a student. As a Learning Specialist in a middle school, I work with teens and tweens on a daily basis. As you can imagine, sometimes when a student is frustrated, they have uttered something along these lines.
One of my priorities is to help the students learn how to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Listed below are 10 Smart Homework Strategies that will help you complete homework assignments more efficiently. These strategies should empower students to be responsible and accountable for their own learning!
Establish a homework location– Create a distraction-free homework space. Follow my advice and you should be able to avoid wasting precious time looking for the stapler, tape or a pencil sharpener. Or even having to make a pull an all-nighter trying to complete a project or prepping for an exam. First, establish a workspace. I encourage my students to use the following guidelines when setting up their own homework space:
- The computer should only be accessible if it is needed for a particular assignment.
- No. The T.V. should not be on (even if it’s on mute).
- Put away your phone while studying. Constant beeps, tweets, status updates, and IMs can derail even the most disciplined student.
- Music? Only if it’s quiet.
- Good lighting is an absolute must.
- Ask your folks to help you organize the space so it’s quiet, comfortable, and has all necessary supplies.
- Get in the habit of working at the same space each day.
Use a Planner – Now it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Ideally it’s just something you can keep in your backpack and take to school every day. Some schools provide student planners. If your school doesn’t offer one, there are loads of calendar apps you can download. Or just use a basic MS Office® or Google® calendar system on your PC or laptop. The point is that you need a method to record all homework assignments. Once you’ve got your calendar, be sure to list any assignments and include all due dates. When planning for lengthy assignments, be sure to indicate the due date and build in midpoint ‘benchmarks.’ I’ve found it’s best not to procrastinate on lengthy homework or projects. Stay ahead! Highlight or cross out homework assignments as you complete the work.
Schedule Time for Homework – I usually recommend students complete their homework at approximately the same time each day. Eventually it will become second nature to you and your family. You may already have an idea of what time works best for you. (Tip: Try to avoid leaving study time or homework until just before bed.) Some other things to consider when scheduling your day and week:
- Mental Breaks- After 20-30 minutes of consistent focus on a particular homework task, take a five minute break to refresh yourself. Eat a healthy snack and do a simple stretching exercise. Then get back to work immediately.
- Prioritize- Good time management is an important life skill and you are never too young to get in the habit of it. Make a note of how much time you anticipate needing to complete an assignment. You may find you have to adjust your time depending on the task at hand. Work on lengthy projects a little at a time. Set aside time to review class notes each day. Even if you don’t have something due the next day, it’s a good idea to check your planner each day to review your schedule and what upcoming assignments are coming due. Again, stay ahead by planning ahead.
If all this sounds great, but you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, be sure to come back tomorrow, when we’ll have Lisa’s foolproof system. It’s a step by step game plan you can start implementing with your students right away!
Disclosure: This is provided content from our sponsors at Charles Wright Academy. At Charles Wright you can expect your college bound student to receive the very best teaching from preschool-high school. Find out more or request more information, at their website.
Photo credit: LifeMentalHealth at Flickr Used under a Creative Commons License