Thursday, January 30, 2014

Our "Homework" Policy

This Mamma got tired a few weeks back, as did Daddy, of having the campers drag their lessons on and on until it was well past time for supper. So, Daddy and I made a new homework policy. Any work that is not finished by 4 PM (and next year the time will go down to 3 PM) must complete that work without help on Saturday. Any work not finished by Saturday evening will be given and E grade.

This has saved so much headache and arguments over the past couple of weeks it's not even funny! There's only been a few times it's been used but boy did it work! We also added a rule to go with it that if you're complaining about your school day too much you get to do some form of copy work on Saturday irregardless of the fact you may finish all of your regular school work on time. And it's cut waaay back on the amount of complaining that goes on around here!

So, here's what we did:

Earlier in the year we'd purchased three inexpensive (we're talking a dollar here folks) student planners but had no clear idea on how exactly we planned to use them since the children just use my lesson plan book to get their lessons out of, or simply ask me for them.
How the student planners look on the outside.
As soon as we came up with the new homework policy (we'd never assigned homework in our homeschool prior to this) I knew just what to use these books for! 
What they look like on the inside...
YCJ's was assembled backwards! So double check
before you purchase!
Each day I open my lesson book in the morning. Peanut gets her lessons directly from me, ECJ checks the book before and after each assignment and checks them off as he goes along (I add a check once I'm sure that the assignment has been finished), and YCJ checks and has me tell her alternatively what her next assignment is and has me check it off as she finishes it. 
My lesson plan book...
A closer view of my planner. In this book the teacher divides the spaces as they see fit
and then fills everything in. I color code mine for simplicity when I'm looking at it.
Pink for Peanut, purple for YCJ, and blue/green for ECJ.

So, in theory what the children are required to do is any assignment that hasn't been finished by 4 PM on that day gets written on that day as homework. If they have no homework they can either cross out the date or draw a smiley face on it. What usually happens is that it gets written on one or both of the weekend days instead so we're still working on that part.

Peanut most likely won't have any homework until at least next fall or later. However, she wanted to be included and we wanted her to be in the habit of using this method. You'll notice nice big green smiling faces on all of her days (at least up to the date I took these pictures). If at the end of the month when we look at her book she has all smiles then she's allowed to pick out one item from Dollar Tree as a reward. We're doing this so that "homework" isn't associated with a bad idea and eventually we'll remove the reward aspect of this for her. It does make her want to get all of her work finished however, because she likes the idea of getting to pick something out for herself. Next year we may offer a different reward, such as an hour of crafting with Mommy or getting to watch an hour of cartoons on Netflix (subject to our approval of the cartoon of course).

YCJ's book looks a bit different. Not because she failed to do her school work on time any of the days this month (she's had no issue with that since the week we began this in December largely due to the fact that "homework" doesn't get help from an adult) but because she spent a full day complaining about her school work and dragging her feet at it all day long. So, she ended up with one Saturday where she had to copy her spelling words out in cursive, which she's only just learning so we were going to write the first one out for her. She also has a small reward system in place but it's that if she doesn't get any homework assigned for the month she's allowed to stay up one night on a weekend and watch a DVD quietly. She really enjoys her alone time and the idea of being allowed to stay up late appeals to her since now Peanut goes to bed and actually goes to sleep which provides for uninterrupted quiet time.

And, finally, ECJ's book. Well, he was doing pretty well. And then we noticed unfinished assignments and a lot of slacking off and back talk. So, everything that he hadn't completed got written (by me) on that weekend in my red pen. He spent the entire weekend working on his homework and getting everything done. The last time he needed to do homework (other than when he was in public school) was last month when we began this policy. He did NOT like it one bit. He doesn't have a monthly reward if he gets no homework. He's expected not to have any homework whatsoever. He's twelve now and in sixth grade and perfectly capable of completing his work on time every time. As a matter of fact our school days are only currently ending at 4 PM due to his shoveling job taking up part of his mornings on some days. He still says that having his weekends free is the best reward because we no longer school on Saturday unless for some extreme reason we feel we need to.

Basic really and super simple to do. We're hoping that by starting this now with the girls that assignments not getting done will not happen as they reach higher grades. Plus, the bonus here is that this is working!!!

Link-ups this is shared with:
Our Busy Homeschool (Sharing What Works)
Squishable Baby 
HOT Homeschool Blog Hop

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  1. Great idea! We've assigned extra math pages before when a child was complaining about doing their current math page. I like the copywork on Saturday idea too, my kids love that Saturday is no school work so that would be effective. :)

    1. Thank you! We're hoping that the middle school years for YCJ (now in 3rd grade) won't be such a struggle to get her work finished on time and that Peanut will just figure out by watching her older siblings and getting positive reinforcement for getting her work done on time each month that she'll simply not want to complain and not want to drag her feet on her school work. It's a prayer and a hope at this point and for now it's working. It may not continue working but I'm glad it's working for now :-)

  2. We don't formally have a system like this in place, but informally we sort of do. Last week my oldest didn't do her math in a timely manner and got stuck with it over the weekend. She's doing better this week! :) Wishing you peaceful days of productive schooling!

    1. Thank you! Same back at you! Taking away a weekend day or two does seem to have the desired effect :-)

  3. Interesting idea. I never thought of doing something like this. Typically, I try to get the evenings free so that they have time for themselves, but not always the case. When I'm feeling feisty, we do the leap reader with the youngest, or practice cursive and for the oldest, reading comprehension and some writing activity. Usually I'm too exhausted and would rather just sit and veg (like that ever happens).

    The only thing that worries me - specifically about doing math (the poster above) it sends a message that math is for punishment - which it's not.

    I really do hope it works for you! Thanks so much (as always) for sharing with us at the homeschoollinkup. I am so appreciative and blessed that you link up with us each and every week!

    1. Thank you Lisa! :) We got tired of school days running into supper especially when we know they can get their work done in a lot less time than we allow. So ... Daddy decided this might work and so far it really is. We don't look at it as a punishment type thing, but more of a natural consequences type thing. If you don't do your work then you must finish it on your own time.

      The girls really adapted to it well so far. And we just spoke with them today about the first month they all don't have homework for a single weekend then they'll have a movie marathon on a regular school day! Super excited kids until the girls looked at their brother and figured he'd never not have homework. They looked at him and said "If you don't let us get a movie marathon day by May then we're gonna get you!"

      Who knows, maybe they'll motivate him like we haven't been able to ... although he does not like having his weekends taken away by "homework"...

  4. Hmmm...think I'll tuck that little Saturday strategy away for potential future use. Clever Mamma and Daddy!

    1. Thank you Joy. We're about two months into this new policy and it's been working extremely well. There's only been one other case of homework assigned and it's been a couple of weeks since then. I think it's really going to stick around here :-)