Homework Strategies - Care for Yourself First

Homework comes at a very interesting time of the day. Late.

I know that by 4 or 5 pm, I have already crammed as much into the day as possible: working, housework, talking with our little one about the day, getting dinner fired up…

Next on the to-do list? Homework.

But homework doesn’t come as easily as other to-do list items. I can’t just throw it in the dryer and walk away, knowing it will take care of itself until the little dinger goes off. I did try this a while back. Not the dryer. I tried the timer with the little dinger for homework. It was fun to set up, but in the end it made my student highly nervous.

Homework requires focus and dedication on my part. And focus and dedication take energy and preparation. If I have skimped on lunch, or have a lot on my mind — even mundane stuff such as matching socks — it is hard to feel prepared to focus in on my student’s work.

Many times my student can work on her own, but even then, I do need to remain available and dialed in for questions and review.

So how can I slow down and get ready?

I have been experimenting with personal time-outs that help me switch hats into homework mode.

Here is what has not worked so well:

1. Bouncing around Facebook. I find I get sucked into the lives of others, and get a grouchy withdrawal feeling as I tune back into the real world.

2. Browsing gossipy stuff on the internet. Again with the withdrawal. Wait! I was just about to find out the 10 ugliest Hollywood couples – and now I have to focus on fractions? Grumph. Okaaaay. Sigh.

3. Getting a bunch of little things done so they can be “off my mind.” Wipe down the fridge! Prep lunchbox for tomorrow! Line up the boots in the snow tray! Sort the mail! It makes me edgy and hyper-focused. Then I find it hard to adjust to the speed of homework, which really should be done at a slower, more thoughtful speed.

Here is what seems to work:

1. Healthy snack: a spoonful of peanut butter doesn’t cut it. Standing in the pantry elbow-deep in the corn chip bag is also not the best approach.

I have found the magic solution is some fruit, and a lot of water. Maybe some almonds or that spoonful of peanut butter to round it out, but fruit keeps me fresh and positive.

2. Five minutes of quiet me-time: crash on my bed and read a book that gives me a positive boost.

3. Organizing my student’s school folder. This brings me into the moment, and gets me excited about what she is learning. Then, homework is a pleasure.

 These small changes on my part make such a difference. I think by arriving at the homework table refreshed and ready to pitch in if necessary, I help my young student feel confident, as she knows I’m truly there.

Article focus: Homework Strategies – Care for Yourself First