Homework Tips and Suggestions
By fourth grade, the ultimate goal is for students to be completing all their homework independently. Some children begin fourth grade already doing this,and for others it takes some time to achieve this goal. Of course, it is important for students to put forth their best effort on their homework, not just that they complete it independently and rush through making careless errors. Below are some suggestions for supporting your child with their work at home.
Suggestions for supporting your child as a writer:
- If your child is not sure what to write about, ask what is being studied in class.
- Ask what they are thinking about writing, or what they are working on or trying out.
- Point out something that you think they have done well. Empty praise is empty.
- Refrain from writing in your child’s notebook.
- Refrain from correcting errors. Instead, you may ask your child to read their writing to you. Or, you can read it to them, exactly as it appears on the page. As you have probably seen, children tend to read their own writing as it should be read, as opposed to how it is written. They correct the errors as they read.
- Encourage the use of a dictionary. State that you see mistakes, but don’t point them out.
Suggestions for supporting your child as a reader:
Talk, talk, talk to them about their reading. Show an interest and ask questions without quizzing.
- Help them develop a reading life that is unique. They should not be reading what you read or what their siblings have read in the past. They may, of course, but students need to evolve into independent readers and the pressure to read recommended books can sometimes get in the way.
- Let them choose their own texts.
- Let them read comics, joke books, magazines, and other types of texts that are out there, especially if they show an interest in them. Novels are great, but are just one type of text and can be very difficult for many emergent readers. Most of what adults read are short texts.
- Encourage reading even when it is not for homework. Expect that they take a text on trips and read over the weekend and on vacations.
- Get that library card and make the trip!
Suggestions for supporting your child with math homework:
- Show some interest in the topics being studied and practiced. The strongest mathematicians often have parents who try to solve problems together.
- Ask what was studied in class.
- Suggest that they “use what they know.” Usually a student knows something about the problem and can use that to begin.
- Avoid trying to teach the student how to solve a problem. Usually the child ends up feeling in-between a teacher’s approach and philosophy and a parent’s, and this creates anxiety in the student.
- If there are mistakes, just say so. Don’t point out where or what they are. Support your child’s independence and study skills. Let them look over their own work and find the mistakes.
- Encourage your child to ask the questions that he may have and to get the help he may need.
- Support their independence. Help them become advocates for themselves.
*If your child has difficulty completing the homework, encourage them to come to me in the morning to explain his confusion. It may also be helpful for you to email me in advance to explain the situation, however we want to build the a sense of responsibility and independence in our fourth graders. There should never be tears, fights, or screaming matches over homework. Never.