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  • Kathryn Patterson

A Homework-Friendly Environment

Before your child can begin his homework, he needs a homework-friendly environment.  I define a homework-friendly environment as surroundings that encourage or even potentially motivate a child to learn.   According to Jean L. Radin, Ph.D., in his work “Creating Enriched Learning Environments:  Lessons from Brain Research”, children need an enriched environment to stimulate learning.  Radin focuses his work on classroom environments, listing both tangible and non-tangible factors.  I adapted the list to work at home. Clean, well-lit room that is pleasant smelling Uncluttered - Your child needs at least one clean horizontal surface to work on. Comfortable temperature - Use ceiling fans to cool off your child on hot days.  Keep a sweater handy for those cool, winter days. Multiple resource for research - This is a bit tougher.  For younger kids, you can mount a homemade poster of the alphabet or basic words on the wall.  For older kids, a lesson in Google and a good set of bookmarks will help with research. A safe, non-threatening environment - In school, this means ridding the classroom of bullies.  At home, this means setting up a non-confrontational environment.  Whatever else is happening, try to keep homework time positive.  If your child starts to whine, ignore it.  If your child says that it’s too hard, give encouragement.  Remember, it takes two to argue, so if you don’t argue then there won’t be one.   Social collaboration - Tricky, since social collaboration usually means with one’s peers.  But you can act as a sounding board for your child, if she needs one. Active engagement in hands-on and minds-on learning - The area of the brain that processes learning also processes movement.  To help your child remain actively engaged, encourage him to get up and walk around every 10 or 15 minutes.  Get a clipboard and help your child find three or four areas to do homework.  Moving around increases retention of information, so encourage your child to get up, stretch, dance, and then focus on homework again. Integration of multiple intelligences - Does your child love music? Art?  Sports?  Take your child’s passion and use it to help learn.  I’ll use learning spelling words for my examples.  For active kids, bounce a ball between you and your child, having him spell out words, one letter per bounce.  For music lovers, teach your child to rap out spelling words.  Use the tabletop as a drum and tap out a beat.  Sing the letters.  For art lovers, use colors to create rainbow words, to have your child hide words in a simple picture. School Supplies -  Why? Your child needs pencils, paper, and such  to succeed with homework.  Where?  I suggest you keep the supplies in one location, and allow your child free access to them during homework.  As for the “what”, I suggest:

  1. No. 2 Pencils

  2. Pencil sharpener

  3. Colored pencils

  4. Black or blue ink pen

  5. Ruler, with both American and metric measurements

  6. Glue

  7. Tape

  8. Wide-ruled paper

  9. Dictionary or access to - the online Merriam-Webster dictionary

  10. Scissors 1I exclude the rest of the items from Radin’s list, because they basically pertain to the classroom.

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