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Homework

Back to School Templates Collection

 

It’s back to school time again and time to get prepared with free printables!  There is a wonderful selection of back to school printable documents available at Microsoft Office’s Back-to-School Template Collections.  You’ll find everything you need for back to school, whether you’re the parent, student, teacher or administrator. 

Free Printables For Students (165 templates)

  • flash cards
  • bookmarks
  • sheet music
  • homework schedules
  • handwriting practice papers and many more.

 

Free Printables For Teachers (178 templates)

  • lesson plans
  • tests and quizzes
  • report cards and grading sheets
  • attendance records and more.

 

Free Printables For Parents (47 templates)

  • academic calendars
  • pocket schedules for sports
  • back to school checklists and more.

 

Free Printables For Administrators (57 templates)

  • academic calendars
  • newsletters for your school
  • student database
  • fundraiser posters and more.

Microsoft also includes special sections for high school and college students, as well as school clipart on the Back-to-School Template Collections page.  Happy printing!

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng.

What We Learned About Homework From 2nd Grade

I’m happy to wrap up the Scaling Down the Homework series, and even happier that the 16th was the last day of school! If you missed our 4-part series Scaling Down the Homework, click the links below to check it out:
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 1)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 2)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 3)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 4)

Even though school is out for summer, we’re ready with our homework plan of action when fall rolls around. Homework (and education in general) is a very sensitive subject. Mel at
Tuttle Family Adventures, who is a teacher, contributed to our discussion with her article Saying Goodbye to Homework (check it out -it’s a great read). She also left us this great comment:

Mel said…
“As a teacher I feel the same way. I require my students to read 15 minutes a night and record a title, author, and short summary (we are talking maybe three lines) and then get a parent signature. They also have one reading assignment that they receive on Monday and is due on Friday so they can decide how to break it down due to family committments. I have had many parents complain over the lacking of homework and others thankful for the break. I just feel that just as we don’t want to put in a full day and go home to work a couple hours more, why should a kid. I think it is sad that our kids do not have time to just be kids any more!”

It was great to read her thoughts, which mirrored mine almost perfectly. I admit it was a bit surprising since she is a teacher; I expected that teachers were more likely to favor homework. Now, enough about homework – it’s SUMMER VACATION!

Scaling Down the Homework -Pt 4

If you missed the first three installments of Scaling Down the Homework, you should read them before continuing down the page.
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 1)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 2)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 3)


How do you motivate a “moving away from” child in a positive way? What is the proper approach to homework for a child who is motivated by consequences? My husband and I designed a system which works beautifully, but didn’t discover it until school had only 1 month left! We’re ready for when the next school year starts. Here’s what we did:
Change #1: The Hour of Homework. Hannah is only allowed 1 hour of homework per night. Period. No more all-night homework. I set the kitchen timer for 1 hour when we walk in the door from school. If she wants to spend 10 minutes taking off her shoes or 15 minutes eating a banana, she is using precious minutes from her Hour of Homework.

Change #2: Hannah has to prioritize her work. She gets help from mom and dad on this one, but ultimately, we’re not going to micromanage her each day. I don’t say, “Stop doing your math which is due on Friday and do your journal which is due tomorrow.” We’re teaching her the skills to prioritize her work. Whether or not she chooses to DO IT is her choice.

Change #3: Hannah is in charge of her own time. She gets to spend her Hour of Homework however she wants to, nag-free. If she wants to dawdle, play, or waste her time, that is her choice – but her homework will not get done. There is NO extra time past 1 hour.

Change #4: There are consequences. This is the important one here, the big motivator.

If you don’t study spelling words, you fail the spelling test. If you don’t do your worksheet, you can’t turn it in. These are common sense school consequences that we all learned as children. School consequences = home consequences. Trouble at school = trouble at home. Hannah didn’t understand punishment since she’s never really had any (she’s a good kid!). However, we were very clear:

Consequence #1: If you don’t do your homework, you get bad grades at school.
Consequence #2: If you get bad grades at school, you get a bad report card.
Consequence #3: If you get a bad report card, prepare to be grounded, big time.

Grounded = losing things you REALLY want, already have, and privileges you take for granted. Hannah was told that a grounding would equal her having the TV taken out of her room or losing her CD alarm clock (which lets her wake up to Hannah Montana music instead of an annoying buzzer).

Armed with our new strategy, we instituted the Hour of Homework system. Wouldn’t you know it, this one worked perfectly! Why? Because it was designed just for Hannah, to motivate her in the best way based on how her mind works. The thought of being grounded made that child move faster than I have ever seen! She used her time wisely when she knew she was in charge of it. She stopped screwing around. Now that homework was her responsibility, it didn’t benefit her to dawdle and waste time. If she didn’t do her work, she’d pay by losing something that meant a lot to her. It worked like a charm. A few days into the new system, Hannah was feeling relieved. She liked only having 1 hour of homework. There was time for her to help make dinner and do fun family activities at night. The atmosphere was less pressure, less stress.

We axed the homework without cutting it out altogether. Setting reasonable limits on homework was necessary to the smooth functioning of our family and the happiness of our child. Now, her whole life isn’t about homework. For an 8 year old, I think that’s a pretty good thing!

 

Scaling Down the Homework -Pt 3

Homework is a very personal and sensitive topic, and most parents have their opinion on what is appropriate: what subjects, how much, due dates, and more. If you missed the first two installments of Scaling Down the Homework, you should read them before continuing down the page.
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 1)
Scaling Down the Homework (Part 2)

We Figured out the Problem
Our ideas were great, well-thought out, and successfully executed. Why, then, did they not work? They made sense in our minds, but would have only worked on a child whose mind thinks like my husband’s and mine.

My good friend, mentor, and life coach Tony Robbins has taught me a lot about human behavior. If you are interested in learning more about Tony Robbins, click on the banner below to check out some of his books and audio programs.
In Personal Power, Robbins talks about the 2 factors which motivate people: “moving towards” and “moving away from.” A “moving towards” person will do something because of what they can gain from it (they move toward a benefit). A “moving away from” person will do something only to avoid a consequence (they move away from a punishment). One is motivated by an incentive and the other is motivated by a punishment.

“Moving towards” example: “You can have a cookie if you put away your toys.”

“Moving away from” example: “If you don’t put away your toys, you will lose your TV time.”

Our brains primarily work in one way or the other, not both. I am a “moving towards” person. I’m very into self-improvement and love to work hard at something if I see a benefit to me or my family. Incentives motivate me.

The incentives and systems we have developed for Hannah over the years have been designed for a “moving towards” person, such as a reading chart with rewards and prizes. THIS WAS OUR MISTAKE. Hannah is, as we plainly realized this year, a “moving away from” person. She will do what is necessary to avoid a punishment or a consequence, but will only do the bare minimum that is required. She is not like the kid in her class who reads extra time for fun or does extra credit for a better grade. Hannah does exactly what is required of her, and nothing more.

All the systems in the world offering Hannah rewards would not work. We tried reminding her that the faster she finished her work, the more time she would gain at night for games or fun activities. Our systems did not work because we tried to give her incentives to move towards. She was not motivated by what she could gain – it really didn’t matter much to her. Conversely, you can really light a fire under that child if you give her a consequence to move away from!

Also, my husband and I were taking responsibility for Hannah’s homework. We would nag her, prod her, and make her do it. Epiphany: Hannah’s homework is HER homework, her responsibility. If she doesn’t do it, she’ll have consequences to face. Those consequences are HERS to reckon with, not ours.

Armed with this knowledge, we were finally able to design the right plan of attack on homework. In the conclusion, Scaling Down the Homework (Part 4), you’ll learn our final plan that has worked wonderfully!

 

Scaling Down the Homework -Pt 2

School has finally wrapped up for the year, and we, as parents, are left to contemplate what WE learned from the school year. My husband and I finally got the homework situation figured out with our daughter once the school year was already drawing to a close. If you missed the first installment of Scaling Down the Homework, you should read it before continuing down the page.

Modifying the Homework: Our Failed Attempt
My husband and I were fed up with our 8 year old daughter spending all of her non-school hours either confined to her room doing homework or sleeping. We never saw her, outside of reminding her to stay focused and stay on task. She had no play time, chore time, or family time.
Hannah’s teacher required 30 minutes of reading nightly. Hannah watched the clock constantly, dreading the reading and waiting for the time to be up. It never seemed to matter how much she liked the book (she always chooses her own reading material). When the timer went off, she didn’t want to finish reading the chapter. She didn’t want to finish reading the paragraph. She didn’t even want to finish reading the sentence she was on! She’d wait out the timer, not reading, but flipping the pages back and forth, looking at the cover, then the back, then flipping through the pictures in the book. We’d catch her and then she’d go back to reading, begrudging every word.

Michael and I had a long brainstorming session and came up with some ideas for change. We both love to read, so having a child that is not an avid reader takes a bit of adjustment for us. It was obvious that Hannah’s attention span for reading silently was NOT 30 minutes long, and confining her to reading was not getting her to read more, but to get more creative at passing the time without getting caught. She wasn’t getting 30 minutes of reading practice per night, that’s for certain!

Idea #1: Reduce the reading time to 15 minutes per night. At parent-teacher conferences, we shared our decision with the teacher and stated very plainly that she would not be forced to read 30 minutes a night anymore. The same methods just do not work for every child.

Idea #2: Hannah’s reading would be aloud, and she could read to either of us or her baby brother. That way we’d know she was actually reading and would be able to hear her progress.

Idea #3: Hannah could read aloud in the car on the way to school or home from school if she wanted. This would reduce the amount of homework she had to do once we got home.

For the first few days it seemed to be working well. The all-night homework was a little bit shorter (she still had to write a 1 1/2 page reading response, study 2 separate spelling word lists, and do math each night). We knew Hannah was getting a solid 15 minutes of reading each night. It was less than 30 minutes, sure, but she never really read for the whole 30 minutes anyway!

Suddenly, Hannah didn’t want to read in the car anymore. I gave her the choice for how to spend our driving time, and she said she’d rather do homework at home. She really dislikes reading aloud and so we let her go back to reading silently, now for 15 minutes instead of 30. We had the same problem on our hands: she dawdled and fidgeted until her reading time was up.

Our brilliant ideas were not a success. We were back at square one and somewhat discouraged by our failures. We had tried so hard to make life easier for our daughter, to free up her time, to eliminate some of the drudgery of her homework. Why hadn’t it worked? Enforcing the new methods like cruel dictators would have been one approach, but it was clear that the changes were not right. They were great ideas for a different child, but they were not great for Hannah.

Realizing that made all the difference. Suddenly, the epiphany came and the truth was apparent! In Scaling Down the Homework (Part 3), read about our paradigm shift, our drastic change to the homework situation and why it worked.