Blog: It’s Never too Early to Help Your Child Be More Independent With Keeping Track of Their Own Homework Assignments

Dr. Carey Heller

Dr. Carey Heller; Licensed Psychologist in Bethesda, Maryland

With so many kids participating in distance learning, the question of at what age do you start giving your child some autonomy in keeping track of their assignments may be even more relevant. In this case, parents may also have even greater independent knowledge of what assignments their child should be working on from observing teachers directly giving the tasks during class or from listings provided in a portal or via email.

I highly recommend as soon as your child begins getting homework of any kind (even in Kindergarten) to help your child develop a system that helps them to keep track of their own assignments. The key here is to work together on a system, adjust it if it is not working, when circumstances change (i.e., your child learns to read better, school returns to in-person), and incorporate parental oversight as a backup method to ensure that work gets completed.

By starting early, it helps your child to take ownership in the process, get more used to keeping track of things themselves, not overly rely on parents to tell them what they need to do, and likely will make it easier on you.

Here are some strategies to help you assist your elementary school aged child in developing a system for keeping track of assignments during distance learning:

  • Sit down with your child and discuss the need to keep track of assignments.
  • Examine what existing systems can be used and added to (i.e., school portal to-do list, calendar from school portal, daily or weekly emails from teacher).
  • Develop a system where ALL assignments are written down in one place.
  • Here are several ideas of how assignments could be recorded and kept track of:
    1. Electronic options
      1. If all assignments are listed accurately in a school portal, a child theoretically could use this as their master list of tasks. Then, each day, they could write out what assignments they are going to do for homework in an electronic task list (Google Tasks can work well especially if your child’s school email account is through Google), Google Doc list, whiteboard, piece of paper, or in another feasible location.
      2. You could export/sync assignments from a school portal to an external electronic calendar for easy reference (be sure that all assignments, including classwork that gets finished for homework or assignments listed in modules are listed in the calendar view (otherwise, you will need to manually add these assignments in)
      3. Using a homework planner app or program to either manually add assignments or sync them with the school portal can be a great option for streamlining visually what needs to be completed.
  1. Non-electronic options
    1. Using a whiteboard that is within reach of the workspace can work well so that a child can write down their assignments themselves during class or right after school (if copying them from a portal).
      1. Creating a structured table or preset whiteboard with days of the week can be very helpful.
      2. Put a sticky note with each assignment on the whiteboard on the due date or date that will work on it.
    2. For some kids, a typical paper planner can work very well.
  2. Options for kids who cannot read yet
    1. Use a whiteboard that has sections for each class (i.e., reading, writing, math) along with a picture to represent it.
      1. Have a yes or no column where a child can put a magnet on the proper column each day to note if they have homework in a given class.
      2. With parental assistance if needed, they can write down the name of the assignment or something that will ensure that they know what task to complete (this can also help develop writing skills).
      3. If needed, another column could be included where assignments are marked off when complete.
  • Setup a daily check-in to finalize to-do list for the day if needed (especially for younger children) and again after work is completed to ensure that all items are actually finished and have been submitted (if submitting electronically).

The suggestions above can definitely be adjusted, but hopefully are helpful in providing a basic framework to expand upon based on your child’s specific homework tracking needs. Once you can help your child have a system to record their own assignments and refer back to each day, you can start focusing more on planning and other elements of homework completion as needed.

Copyright 2020 Carey Heller, Psy.D.

*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship,  and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*

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