Establishing a Homework Checklist

I'm Dr. Sherry Kelly. Thank you for joining me today. I am a clinical neuropsychologist, a licensed psychologist, and also a former educator. So one of my favorite things to do is to talk to students and parents about learning to learn. It's one of the most fascinating aspects of neuroscience, and it's something that's actually very easy to understand for parents and students alike.

And I think once students understand some basic concepts of how the brain likes to learn, they can implement those concepts to make learning a lot more fun and a lot easier. So we're going to step right into it. I'm going to tell you a little bit about the magic of learning today. Learning is in many ways, similar to how a computer takes in information. Your brain in some ways works like a computer. It downloads, organizes, and saves information.

The challenge is that, as students, you're often given a lot of information that is not organized. For parents, this is also frustrating because oftentimes your student has homework and they don't understand why it was even given. Sometimes the teacher isn't well organized or the homework itself demands that your student organizes it or organizes material, and that's something that they haven't been taught to do.

So we're going to talk today about how to organize material. This is really important as it relates to homework, because how you initially process information, then organize it and download it in that computer in your brain, it will dictate how you retrieve it later on, how you remember it later on, how you retrieve that information for tests or labs, or later down the road when you have to use this information again.

So keep in mind this key point that the initial processing of information is integral to learning and memory. If you don't effectively organize what you are supposed to learn, then your learning and recall of the information will be limited. Develop active learning strategies that will set the stage for critical thinking skills.

First, by organizing the information and using that information down the road will actually enhance your learning habits throughout the lifespan. So today, I'm going to give you some tips on how to organize information for homework, and then how to approach homework may be in a brand new way.

I ask students to always establish a homework routine. For younger kids, this means parents have to help them. I recommend that younger students in elementary school actually do their homework in a family setting or at the dinner table or at the kitchen table, at the breakfast bar. We don't want kids to feel isolated when they're doing homework.

And we want students to feel like learning is nurturing. So if you do your homework in the kitchen or the dining room table, it's a natural connection with love and you're enjoying it. We also want kids to feel like their parents or their guardians are invested in their learning experience and all the hard work that they do at school.

So turn off your cell phones, turn off the TV, try not to multitask while you're helping your child start the homework. A lot of times, homework resistance or avoidance has to do with not wanting to be isolated. So this is one way of making homework seem like family responsibility, that it's something that we do together and it's a lifelong habit. The other thing is to establish a pre-homework checklist.

And this is for students of all ages. I'm going to go through my key tips for establishing a homework checklist. It's like a preflight checklist that pilots use every time they get into that airplane before they take off. This is your pre homework checklist. So the number one question, why did the teacher give me this assignment? What is the purpose of this assignment?

Now, parents, you may have heard this in various permutations from your student, but that's a great question. Why did the teacher give me this assignment? You have to understand what the purpose is. Oftentimes, it's reinforcing what was taught during the school day. Oftentimes, it's to introduce new material.

This is something that can happen in math, for example, where they want to pre-teach or want you to pre learn. Oftentimes, it has to do with what you do in the lab. So first is to understand what this homework assignment has to do with what they're being taught in school.

What specific skills or concepts am I to learn from this homework? Is it a skill or is it a concept and what specific skills or are there processes of skills? Is it to learn how to timeline, for example. Is it to learn how to set up equations correctly? Is it to learn facts? Is it to memorize facts? Is it to memorize information in total? Is it to compare and contrast information?

So understanding the specific skills or concepts that you are supposed to gain from this homework and to prove from this homework. Did you identify or see any buzzwords in the assignment or the test? And I want to talk to you a little bit about buzzwords. Buzzwords are words that are embedded in the question of the homework or in the assignment that teachers like to give.

So these might be compared and contrast situations or draw a conclusion or revise a question. Explain the significance of, that's often in homework for older students. Identify and explain a pattern, oftentimes that is embedded in homework. Take and defend a position of a character in a novel or a historical figure, that's often a popular topic for homework.

Studying the relationship between different concepts or studying the relationship between two classes. For high school students, this is now becoming popular, where English and history curricula are connected or synthesized. Oftentimes you'll have an English class, might be reading The Crucible by Arthur Miller. And then for example, at the same time, the history teacher is teaching about 1950s American history McCarthyism.

So there's a reason why you're doing both at the same time, and parents should understand, well, the method to that madness. Understand that some buzzwords might want you to test models or test theories. And this often happens in science homework, or that's often something that you see in project-based homework.

I want to get back to showing what you know again, and understanding that teachers might want you to demonstrate that you understand something that was done in a lab and they'll have homework to address that. So you need to know if that assignment is about memorizing the content of the material, the content of what you may have read or been presented to in class or in the lab, or demonstrating a skill.

What are the relationships and the sequences that I can identify between the homework and the material in the class? Does the teacher want facts in the homework? Does she want you to know about facts or memorize facts? Does she want you to mention facts, use facts and arguments, or does she want you to synthesize information or does she want you to be creative? Oftentimes, this would be an English assignment where she wants to show your creativity or to make your own story based on something that you read.

And then lastly, understand how this information might be used later on in the test and think about that. Try to get thatRemember. that we aim for goal-driven and purpose-driven studies and purpose-driven, pretend that you are that teacher, and how might this be a setup for a test or a project later on.

So just to recap, to organize your material, understand what the purpose of this assignment is. How does it relate to what you were doing in school today? Understand why the teacher wants you to do this. And for parents of younger students, you might actually need to get the course outline.

This is something to ask the teacher early in the semester. What subjects are you going to be covering? What periods of history might you be covering? What books are you reading? What are the relationships between the books that you're reading? And you can actually tee yourself up for success if you can ask the teacher this in advance.

I noticed you've, you're reading these books and I don't understand how they're related. Perhaps you can tell me how they might be related. Is it based on that time and in history, is it based on the types of authors that we're reading? Is it based on a subject?

And so just knowing how the material might relate to each other actually is a way of organizing material and actually helps you understand the purpose of the homework later on. Understand also the timeline of how the teacher is going to be presenting the subject over the course of the semester and how that homework or those projects have to do with the timeline that you're studying in history or the number of books or the type of books that you're reading in English.

So you might be reading, let's say three books by feminist authors, and you might be given three books at very different times in American history. And that might be the teacher's purpose, is to try to tell you or to show you or teach you how that literature evolved over the course of the 20th century or evolved from the 19th century through the 20th century. That's something that you might get on homework.

For younger students, you might really be working on understanding material, extracting key sentences, understanding concepts, and understanding the key themes of a story that you're reading. Take stock in the type of homework questions that your teacher is asking you, because chances are those types of questions will be on the test.

So I hope today you've got some tips that are useful. I hope you're going to make your pre-homework checklist with those key questions that I have down for you. Please establish a homework space and consistent office hours for homework. Parents, focus on the student and limit your distractions. And really remember that we aim for goal-driven and purpose-driven studies and purpose-driven homework.

So try to figure out the purpose of the homework, and what's your purpose as a student for learning in this class? What goals do you have for learning in class this semester? Please let me know how this works out for you. Best of luck. Bye.

Check this more of this series:

Remember. that we aim for goal-driven and purpose-driven studies and purpose-driven homework.

Key Takeaways:

Organizing material is a good first step at homework efficiency
Understand what this homework assignment has to do with what children are being taught in school.
Parents should focus while attending to their kid's needs

No More Homework Battles with Dr Sherry Kelly

Do You Need help with a Learning Difficulty?

Our simple online analysis will help you get to the core of the problem and find the right solution for you.

Understanding how to help someone with a learning difficulty starts with understanding which micro-skills are affected. When you learn which of the micro-skills is the problem, you will then be on your way to solving it.

You'll also learn how to:

  • Build confidence
  • Enhance Learning ability
  • Eliminate avoidance
  • Build grit

You can get this analysis for free by filling out this simple form. This will help you get to the bottom of a learning difficulty and provide you with a solution. If you are ready to put this problem behind you click the button below and fill out the form.