Our first article dealt with the parents' side in the homework battle. This article will discuss the students' roles. If each side acknowledges, discusses and accepts responsibility for their part in successful homework completion, then a united front can win the war and make way for peaceful evenings.
Students must seek out space that will allow them to do their homework uninterrupted. Students must work in an environment where learning can happen. That means away from the television and cell phone. It means giving the work the undivided attention it deserves. It means getting focused and staying focused.
It also means not rushing and not waiting until they are so dog-tired that they can't keep their eyes open. Just as important is that the student take breaks during studying and have a snack. The student has the responsibility to keep his or her assignments organized. If parents provide the recommended color-coded folders and notebooks, the student should use them. The student's job it to record what must be done and when it is due. They must know what is considered a complete assignment.
They should know what teachers expect and communicate this to parents if necessary. It is also the student's responsibility to complete assignments on time. Parents may know what has been assigned and when it is due, but they do not attend class with the student. Only the student has the benefit of hearing daily about upcoming big projects and should be planning accordingly. Students should keep track of large project and exam due dates by use of a calendar.
They have to share with parents in a timely fashion any help or materials they need them to provide. Students need to avail themselves of study groups or tutoring to educational software that supplements and reinforces class concepts. Likewise, if they are struggling or need extra help in a subject, they have an obligation to talk to their parents or teachers about getting that extra help. Students must be resourceful. Kids need to ask parents for help, but also must learn to find alternative sources of help on their own.
There aren't many kids who don't know how to use the internet as a source of reference material. But what if they can't find the answer to the exact problem they have been given? What if they don't fully understand the assignment? The student must be able to use the teacher and other kids in the class as resources. That means having contact information for outside help, such as phone numbers and email addresses. While we are on the subject of the internet, let's talk about what it shouldn't be used for. Most students know that they can readily have their foreign language translation homework done for them on any number of translation websites.
That is not an ethical use of the internet. If the student can't translate the words himself, what learning has been accomplished if the computer completes the assignment? While using the computer to complete this assignment may get the work done correctly, this isn't the student's own work. And this is a good time to mention cheating. Cheating is not to be tolerated. Not by the use of any clever method, such as using a cell phone to capture a photo of the test at the desk nearby. It is the student's responsibility to not cheat, to try hard, to do their best and earn their grades.
It is a good idea to open homework communication channels by having a back-to-school discussion between parents and students. On the discussion agenda should be the topic of responsibilities. Use the suggestions here to clarify expectations and set guidelines. Remember that the best defense is a good offense.
Be forearmed, forewarned and pro-active in the homework war and the battles just may be won. An added benefit to creating an environment that facilitates homework is that the student might understand the bigger scope of learning. Yes, homework completion is the immediate priority. But students must accept that this is not just a means to an end. Teachers don't give homework to ruin their social lives. The pursuit of and immersion in learning, the joy of exploration and discovery, are the real lessons to be learned.
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