If you said the word “homework” or “writing” with Ava in kindergarten, she went straight to fetal position. It was a great reminder of something I knew well, that children learn differently. What worked for my firstborn with homework, clearly wasn’t a fit for Ava. I hadn’t even asked Ava about her thoughts on the whole homework gig. I remembered homework contracts! Ava needed to be in charge.
I think kids, as early as possible, should be in charge of their homework, as much as possible depending on the child. Be their scaffold, but not the builder. Be their coach, not the player. Be clear on the teacher’s expectations. In my classroom and with my kids I have found a “Homework Contract” helps establish a good homework routine and dialogue. The kids think its fun to help write and sign a contract. They want some time off when they come home or get right to it? Do they like a snack before, during, or after? Do they want to do homework in their room or kitchen table? There’s a lot of “buy in” power with putting kids in charge of their homework from the first day it comes home. And, when they forget to put their homework in their bag, I resist all urges to bring it to school for them. Well, there was this one time…but I was volunteering at the school anyway…
I’ve known parents who incorporate rewards or punishments or both into the homework plan. Some kids need it, some don’t. Some kids are more naturally motivated than others. You know your child best. Readjust the homework contract as needed. If a child makes a choice you know isn’t a good match for him/her…bite your tongue, let them try. Try and modify. A lesson I have to remind myself of often…my kids don’t have to do everything the same way!
And, it’s worth mentioning because I’ve heard horror stories: The rule of thumb I was taught at
Clown Teacher School is kids should have an average of about 10 minutes of homework per grade level, plus daily reading time which is hopefully fun. If they are having consistently more than that, or having trouble working independently, discuss it with your teacher.
If you google “homework contracts” you’ll find plenty. The idea isn’t mine and has been around for at least a decade.
Here’s a homework contract that I made. Feel free to use, lose, share or modify. Or even better, let your kids design their own. And, you know, some kids don’t need one. That’s ok too. Homework Contract