Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How do I get children to do their work?

Ms. Dorothy - 
My children are supposed to have their planner signed every night as their homework. If they dont have it signed they have to stand on the line for recess. It drives me crazy because we are punishing them when in reality it is their parents who we want to be responsible. besides taking away recess what other ideas do you have for if a child is missing homework or not finishing work in class?
- First Year Teacher

If a child doesn’t finish work during the time allotted in class, I have them use their lunch recess to do it.  Typically it is because they are playing in the classroom, and I tell them that they’ve chosen to take recess during work time, so they’ll have to use recess time to do work.  

 It usually only takes one time of sitting alone doing work while everyone else is playing to decide to use time differently during class.

I am not a big fan of universal homework.  Generally, kids don’t all need to practice the same things the same amount of time.  If the homework is individualized, students are more willing to do it.  You have to explain what they are being asked to do and why.  They are usually better able to do the work, and want to bring it back and show you what they've done after that little bit of one-on-one attention.

As far as taking away recess for not doing homework – I can’t imagine it works.  The consequence is too far removed from the offence and unrelated.    

I’d first check my intentions about the purpose of the homework.  I'd ask myself, is it specific and essential, meaningful and manageable? 

If so, I would offer to stay after school with the ones that are having the hardest time getting it done, or getting support at home, and help them to do it!  Then it’s done.

If I can’t do the after school time, I'd try doing a homework club during lunch recess. If the goal is for them to learn something, then doing the unfinished work during recess serves that end. 

There is a difference between teaching and punishing.

When your objective is to punish a child, you are satisfying your need.  When your objective is to satisfy the need of a child, there is a good chance they will learn.

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