Many after school programs offer a Homework Club or hour. Some are required to do so and some do it to add to their beneficial daily programming. Whatever the reasons it can be quite a challenge to have a successful homework program in an after school setting. Here are some tips to hosting a successful homework time
1) Construct a Parent/Staff/Student Homework Agreement: Expectations should be clearly outlined on this agreement. Be sure to have the Parent/Child sign it and keep it in a safe place. Important questions/points to consider and include on this agreement are:
- Are children who are signed up required to attend Homework time?
- Discipline Policy and Procedures are clearly outlined and parents are aware of it. (see #4 sub-heading below for more on this)
- How long will Homework time last?
- How many Staff will be supervising Homework time?
- Center responsibilities – are they responsible for making sure homework is completed or corrected? Will the center be providing materials such as pencils, rulers, lined paper, dictionaries, etc. If so, list what will be provided
2) Provide a Daily Sign In/Out Log: Keep track of student attendance in HW Time and place it in the Parent area at the end of the day for their review
3) Post Homework Time Rules: Make it clear what is expected of the children while they are in HW Club
4) Provide a suitable Homework environment: Ideally a room with tables and dedicated only to Homework time. If you have a large number of students or mixed ages you may want to make a seating chart. Try to minimize distractions as much as possible. Set up a corner where children can sign in and out and check out pencils, paper, dictionaries, rulers, erasers, and calculators (optional.) It is best not to have an electronic sharpener in the room as it can become quite a distraction. Try to have Staff make sure pencils are sharpened beforehand and if necessary hand out handheld sharpeners, which are much more budget friendly anyway.
5) Instill a Discipline Policy: The goal is to provide an atmosphere that is conducive for everyone to complete their Homework. Set up Homework Club Discipline Guidelines and be consistent about enforcing them. Example~ 3 Step policy if children are being disruptive 1) Verbal Warning 2) Move their Seat 3) Dismissal from Homework Time.
6) Provide Rewards & Incentives: Reward positive behavior during Homework Time. Try to to recognize not only their good behavior but also how well they are staying focused on their Homework and completing it. You can use a Smiley Sticker Chart, and have a Homework Party after a certain number of stickers are earned. You can also put up a WOW Board, showing off children’s stellar work.
7) Have Break Time Before Homework Time: Try to have a 15 to 20 minute window between the time school gets out to when Homework time begins. During this break the children can relax, have a snack and then re-focus on their work without feeling burned out.
Best of Luck having a successful Homework Time at your program. As with any new idea with children, you may want to adapt or change a few things here and there to fit the needs of your program.