We all know the feeling. Your foster child has had a hard day at school and they just want to go outside and play. Sometimes that’s all you want, too! Alas, homework beckons.
There are differing opinions on the effectiveness of assigning homework to students. For younger children, it can be more of a nuisance than anything else – it reduces playtime and can create stress (for children and parents). Older children see a more immediate benefit, as homework can be used as a study tool.
No matter which side you come down on, you’ll have to deal with homework at some point in your foster journey. As such, it’s good to have a strategy in place, to help you and your foster child maximise the benefits of homework-time. Follow our tips and tricks detailed below, and you’ll be a master homework strategist in no time.
Create a homework hub
We’ve written before about the importance of creating a space for your foster child that they can call their own. It gives them control of their environment, which leads to a feeling of control over their lives. We can apply similar logic to homework time.
If you can, designate a section of your house ‘the homework hub.’ Put up a sign, get a jar of pens and pencils, some paper – everything your foster child needs to complete their homework. Make sure the space is comfortable and welcoming – good lighting, a nice chair, and a clutter-free table are essential!
By creating a specific environment dedicated to homework, you can help imbue a sense of focus in your foster child. Once they take their seat in the homework hub, it’s homework time – and nothing else. This environment can also help alleviate potential anxieties around homework, as homework is left in the homework hub and not taken anywhere else.
Establish a homework routine
Once you’ve carved out your homework hub, continue to build a structure for your foster child. Establishing a homework routine is a great way to help homework time go smoothly. Decide how much time you both need to dedicate to homework every night and stick to it.
Drawing up a to-do list at the start of every session is a great way to get started building your homework routine. It gives your foster child a clear set of goals to accomplish and allows you both to gauge exactly how much time you’ll need to spend on certain items on the list. There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing something off a to-do list, so it works as a reward system too.
Build in breaks and choose your homework time wisely
Homework can be exhausting. Your foster child has already had a long day at school, and the last thing they want to do is more learning. As a result, managing when homework gets done is of great importance.
Some children need time between school and homework to decompress, while others are better off keeping their momentum going and hitting the books right away. You’ll know yourself which camp your foster child falls into – either way, make sure they get something to eat before they start into their homework. They’ll need the energy!
Building breaks into their homework routine is a good idea – especially if your foster child is older and has a lot of homework/study to get through every evening. Work in short breaks at set times – five minutes every thirty, or ten every hour. Encourage your foster child to get up and move around – this helps realign their brain away from work, and prevents tunnel vision from setting in. As we’ve said before, self-care is important.
Be prepped for them to forget
You can be the most prepared parent in the world, but you can’t get started on homework you don’t have. Your child’s teacher will likely get them to write down their homework every day, but just in case they don’t we have a handy trick for you – establish a class call list. If you get a few phone numbers of other parents in the class, you can always call them up to get any homework your foster child may have forgotten to take down.
This is beneficial in more ways than you might think – it ensures your foster child will never forget a piece of homework, it removes the stress from the “I can’t remember!” moment, and it allows you to establish relationships with other parents in the class.
If you follow the tips and tricks above, you’ll begin to see improvements around homework time from the get-go. Establish a great routine, and pretty soon you might actually start to enjoy doing homework – though we make no guarantees!