Teachers often charge into the new school year ready to dive into lessons and acquaint students with their expectations and goals for the year. Most teachers rev up weeks before the official first day of school. Students, however, can find the transition more abrupt. After all, they just spent the last few months free from homework and daily routines. Not only must they leave summer vacation behind to be in the classroom every weekday, but they’re even expected to do homework!
Homework is part of the learning process. Most schools have an expectation that students and parents will participate nightly in research, practice, and preparation at home. In order to build success as the year progresses, it’s important for teachers to ease students back into the homework routine. If students are overwhelmed right off the bat, it could lead to feelings of frustration and disengagement from the assignments.
Depending on the class you teach, you know once you are a few weeks into the school year just how much homework you will be assigning. So ease into it. Start small and focus on creating a routine. Homework assignments during the first week or two should be bite-size versions of what they will eventually be. Early homework assignments are more about getting students into the routine of completing homework. Later assignments can be more in-depth.
Use the first few weeks of school to introduce the different modes of homework you will be assigning throughout the year. By modeling different kinds of assignments, you set up expectations and teach them how to do homework rather than overload them with assignments. Create homework assignments that are designed to engage students, including short answers, research, or online assignments. Keep the assignments focused more on student interests, sharing about themselves and urging them to relate their personal goals and expectations. Eventually, these assignments will become relevant to the lessons and topics they are learning. By then, they’ll know how to handle the different types of homework you assign.
The beginning of the school year is the time to set class expectations for your students. Easing them into homework and training them to know what to do and what to expect from the coming year’s assignments will help make the transition to a new class and new year a success.