There are any number of reasons why students don’t get their homework done. Some students have part time jobs after school or have to take care of siblings. Others play sports, take music lessons, just hang with friends or spend time online doing whatever. There’s lots to distract kids from doing homework, especially some of the more reluctant or struggling students I support who welcome the distractions that take them away from doing homework. I’ve found that telling these students that doing homework should come first before anything else is really counterproductive. So I don’t. I surprise them my telling them I can help them work homework into their schedule so that they can do the other things they want to do as well as homework the need to do to be more successful in school.

I start by giving them a chart that lists the days of the week and the different times of the day and then ask them to record all their activities and the times they would do them. I just have them do it for one week. Then I help them schedule their homework into the open time slots. Amazingly, this works. I help them “see” the available time slots. Sometimes this involves a bit of rearranging of activities on the part of the student, but usually by the time we’re finished the student is satisfied with the homework schedule. They think it reasonable, and that’s half the battle. They don’t feel homework interferes with their life or that life interferes with their homework.

I suggest that the students tell their friends that they’re busy during the time allotted to do homework so they won’t be disturbed at that time. That shouldn’t be a big deal because they already have scheduled time to talk to friends anyway. I also suggest they don’t do any homework after 10 pm.

Some students schedule homework the same day everyday. Others schedule homework a different time every day. I leave it up to them. It has to be their plan for it to work. Of course we revisit the schedule after the first few weeks and rejig it where necessary.

The point I am trying to make here for my students is that homework can be worked into their lives. Homework doesn’t mean they have to give up the things they like or have to do. I talk about doing things in moderation- homework included. I tell them I try to achieve a balance in my life, and I think they should strive to do the same. Being a student is only part of their lives. Being a teacher is only part of mine. I think we understand one another.

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4 Responses to “Helping students schedule their homework into their distracted lives.”

  1. teachermom on February 9th, 2010 7:53 am

    You know what, this is a great idea! TY for posting on it. Sometimes, it’s easy to get frustrated when students don’t do homework…and I forget that time mgt is a skill that can be taught. I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. Mirjan Krstovic on February 12th, 2010 12:02 am

    Excellent way of helping kids develop time management skills Elona! I use the calendar idea when it comes to exam time to help student manage their time when preparing for the final exams.

    It would be interesting what Alfie Kohn would say to this. He is the guy who says that “kids should not have homework…it’s like working a double shift”…not sure if I agree with him.. check out this 1:29 min video:

    Mirjan Krstovic
    .-= Mirjan Krstovic´s last blog ..The Community Circle: How to bring the spirit of community to your classroom =-.

  3. LInda Myring on February 13th, 2010 4:59 pm

    Thank you for producing this blog and podcast. I was referred to you by Jason Jarrett a friend and fellow Buddhist.

    I teach middle school in South Los Angeles, a very dangerous area with many challenging but creative students. I love it but also feel at risk at times myself. Mutual support is a great companion.


  4. Elona Hartjes on February 13th, 2010 8:34 pm

    I’m delighted to hear from you. Yes, we do need to support one anther. That’s why i started this blog. I hope what I’ve written is helpful. I have however stopped podcasting my blog. I just didn’t want to spend the time it took to do the podcast. I’m trying to keep a balance in my life and producing the podcast was taking me away from other things. . I’m doing my MEd and have even less time now. I enjoy doing everything I do- that’s the problem.

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