Homework page 2

The Homework Plan

The question “Do you have homework?” should be banished from your household. Kids should devote a certain amount of time each day to “self-improvement”. Self-improvement time is working on school assignments, studying for future exams, practising music, reading, or perhaps completing parent assigned work sheets. It’s any activity that leads to improving oneself or preparing oneself for the future.

You must decide how much time your child should devote to self-improvement each day. It depends upon their age and your school’s expectations. Younger kids might have 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Older kids maybe an hour or more 5 or 6 times a week. Junior High would be more. {for home schooling as opposed to homework, set your times based on your school’s recommendations}

You need to set a specific time for the self-improvement shift each day. Try to schedule shifts at least a week in advance. The times can only be changed with prior parental approval and only for legitimate reasons. Just like a job outside the home. Schedule days off.

Fifteen minutes prior to their start time, give your child one reminder that their shift starts in 15 minutes. Set a timer. Your child needs to be prepared and ready to start when the timer goes off.


Step 1: Before the timer goes off, your child must have completed three tasks, all of which should only take 3 or 4 minutes of your child’s time:They need to have completed a Weekly “To Do List”, which is included in the handouts. You’ll need to copy it and keep a supply on hand. This is a list of all assignments that need to be done, and a deadline for each task is specified. Non-assigned work, such as studying for an upcoming exam or self-improvement work such as music and reading, should be included on the sheet. A new sheet is completed at the beginning of each week. There’s a column for each day of the week, and your child prioritizes the work they plan to complete that day. If your child finishes their priorities, they start on projects that aren’t yet due. This is a major advantage of a set work time. There’s no benefit to rushing through the work. If one job is completed, they simply start the next. It becomes advantageous to do a thorough job and encourages children to start projects early. Younger children may require help to complete their To Do list.

Step 2: Prior to their start time, your child must have transferred any homework recorded in their agenda onto their “To Do List”. Many kids try to keep track of assignments just using their agenda, but this is a disaster as assignments and due dates get lost in the back pages and assignments aren’t recorded in one place. The “To Do List” avoids these problems because it’s a compilation of all work needing to be completed including larger projects that may be due at a later date. Large projects, such as an essay, can be broken down into smaller components using the Project Time-line Sheet (in the handout book). Components of the project can be listed separately on the To Do list and the work started on a component whenever there’s time left in a shift. The project sheet gives an example of how to do this. As your child finishes work they cross it off their To Do List. Work still to be completed at the end of the week is transferred to the following week’s To Do List. These are important organizational skills that all children need to learn.

Step 3: When the timer goes off, your child should be at their work place and ready to work. Their work place must be where you can provide supervision such as the kitchen table or study. They can’t be expected to work in their bedroom where supervision is impossible. Even an adult would find it hard to concentrate surrounded by toys or hobbies. Kids should not be in front of a TV; it’s impossible to watch TV and do homework simultaneously. Some kids, however, find listening to music helpful, and studies have shown music can improve concentration by blocking out distracting noises or conversation.

Once the timer goes off, your child starts their self-improvement time. Your child has a Self-Improvement Log (in the handout book), which is completed by the parent (the work supervisor). Each day’s work shift is broken down into four rating periods. The first rating reflects your child being prepared when the timer goes off signalling the start of the work shift (just like in school or in factories). Being prepared means:

  1. Assigned homework is transferred from the agenda onto the To Do List.
  2. The work to be completed that evening is identified and prioritized on the list.
  3. Your child is ready to start and sitting at their desk.

Your child earns one point for each of the above tasks completed before the timer goes off.

Step 4: The work shift begins, and the shift is divided into three additional rating periods. If your child has a 60 minute shift there would be three 20 minute periods. The next three ratings reflect your child’s focus and concentration during each of the three work periods. A timer should be set to signal the end of each period, at which time you assign a rating between 0 and 3 reflecting how well your child focused and concentrated during that time period:

0 = “Nothing accomplished”

1 = “Needs improvement”

2 = “Okay – satisfactory to good”

3 = “Excellent – more than expected”

You can usually tell how focused your child was, but you’ll need to distinguish “thinking about their work” from daydreaming. Your child may get up to use the bathroom, grab a drink, or pet the dog, but to earn a rating of 2 they need to generally be on task and working. After providing the rating, you answer any questions and offer needed assistance. Your child may wish to stretch or take a short break then reset the timer for the next time period.

It’s critical you rate your child’s focus and concentration, not the quality or quantity of work completed. Your job is to ensure your child is focused, working, and making productive use of their time. What is actually accomplished should be left to your child and their teacher. If your child is putting in concentrated time and effort, the homework and marks will look after themselves.

Rating your child on how much or what they managed to complete during the homework shift, or rating the quality of your child’s work, will defeat the purpose of the program! The program will not only fail to help, it will make things worse.