Teacher offers tips for tackling homework

September 08, 2011|Lisa Prejean

"Mom, I have homework in every subject tonight."

Each time I hear one of my kids make that statement, I inwardly groan.

I know what is ahead of us ... a late night.

Not that I'm complaining. I'm a teacher, after all, and I assign homework. I tell my students to try to finish as much as they can in class while I am there to help them.

Any of the classwork that they don't finish in class becomes homework that they finish at home.

Practicing learned concepts is key to retention. We wouldn't think of allowing athletes to play in a game if they hadn't practiced first. Likewise, we wouldn't want students to take a test without doing some exercises to prepare.

In recent days, our teens have taken us back to our college books. (Yes, we saved some of the texts for such a time as this.) My husband looked up logarithms in his college calculus book so he could talk shop with our son. I pulled out my college anatomy book ... just in case our son needed another source for science.

We're just trying to make the evenings more interesting and less painful.

To make things go a little smoother, I've given my children some guidelines for studying.

  •  Be kind to your parents. We will try to help you as much as we can, but it might have been a while since we've done the work you are being assigned. Plus, we weren't in the classroom with you. Try to remember what your teacher taught you.
  •  Do the hardest task first. This just goes against our nature, doesn't it? We want to do the fun things and then eventually get to what is difficult. We should do the hardest things when we have the most energy and are the most alert. As the evening wears on, the energy wears down.
  •  Sit at a desk or a table to do your work. You will be able to concentrate and keep your focus. If you recline on a couch or stretch out across your bed, the work will take longer and you might fall asleep in the middle of it.
  •  Drink water while you work. Keeping hydrated will help you feel less tired.
  •  Take short breaks. Get up. Walk around. Clear your mind. Then get right back to the task
  •   Do assignments as you receive them. Don't wait until the night before to tackle your work. Finish early. You never know what might be assigned the next day.
  •  Double-check your work. You can correct any mistakes and reinforce the learning that has taken place.
  •  Space out long-term assignments. Do a little piece of a project each night.
  •  Study in advance. Have a test coming up in a few days? Spend 10 to 15 minutes each night looking over notes, textbook highlights and completed homework. The night before the test should be reserved for a time of review. It should not be a cram session.

 Go to bed. You won't be worth much to yourself, your classmates or your teachers if you don't have a proper amount of rest.

Have a good evening, and enjoy what you've been learning.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to her at

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