Among the responsibilities as an after-school sitter, homework is often on top of the to-do list. But this can be a tough part of the job, especially when the kids can’t seem to focus or understand the material.
It all starts with a plan. Here are some ways to make this less stressful and more enjoyable for both of you.
1. Establish Boundaries
Discuss an after-school schedule ahead of time with the parents. What are they looking for? What is the schedule now and how can it be improved? What are the current challenges during after-school time? Then have a discussion with both the parents and the kids present. Parents need to make it clear to the children that what the sitter says goes. When parents and the caregiver are on the same page, children can’t try to get around the rules.
2. Play First
It’s good for kids to burn off steam before they sit down to work, so encourage them to run around for a bit before hitting the books.
3. Turn off the TV
While having some down time for play is a great thing before homework begins, television time shouldn’t be part of the equation. It’s a passive activity that doesn’t put kids in the right frame of mind for schoolwork.
4. Provide Snacks
No one wants to work on an empty stomach, so give kids something to eat before starting homework. Opt for whole foods. Fruit, complex carbohydrates and protein could be great pre-study snack options.
5. Keep to a Routine
Find a defined time every day for homework, and taking care of homework sooner rather than later, so it’s not a stress in the evening. Of course, every family is different, but the key is to have a plan.
6. Create a Productive Environment
Be a leader during the homework time. Create a good space for schoolwork and reduce distractions, such as turn off the TV and try to stay off the phone. Other steps to creating a proper work environment are gathering supplies in a central location, providing breaks between subjects and keeping noise levels down.
7. Set an Example
Many after-school and evening sitters are in school too and have their own homework to complete. There’s nothing wrong with working on it at the same time as children do their work. Children will learn from your example, so keep a positive attitude.
8. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Make sure parents stay in the loop about how their kids are doing with schoolwork. Persistent homework troubles are often a sign of a learning problem. But do remember, trying harder won’t help. Keep parents informed about any struggles taking place, so they can seek necessary help, like hiring a tutor.
9. Reward Good Work
Punishment, nagging and pleading are no fun for anyone. Instead of negative approaches, work on motivating students with a reward (that don’t include TV). Try things like playing a board game, walking to the park or playing a game together. Additionally, be sure to praise students. Point out what they are doing well, such as staying on task, using creative thinking or double-checking their answers.
10. Encourage Independence
Ultimately, homework is not the responsibility of the parent or the sitter. It is okay to provide guidance as your charge works through a few problems, but don’t walk them through each one.
Doing homework doesn’t have to be filled with stress for sitters or kids. With this advice, you can be on the road to supervising happy, productive study sessions that will leave everyone feeling accomplished.