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Helping Children Practice Self-Monitoring With Homework

Child self monitoring herself while doing homework

As parents and educators, how can we best help children learn the self-monitoring skills that drive better academic performance? These strategies for students who rush through their work will empower these learners to slow down and show their full potential.

What Is Self-Monitoring?

Self-monitoring is the skill we use to assess our progress and make course adjustments while we are in the midst of a task. We might be monitoring procedures, like adjusting the temperature when something is cooking too fast. We might also be monitoring behaviors and adjusting our approach for better results, for example, by checking what is cooking at more regular intervals. We also self-monitor when we eat our slightly burned cooking results and determine what we could do better next time.

When it comes to homework, many students have a tendency to rush to complete the assignment in the shortest possible time. The quality of the results is lost in the process, as is the opportunity to engage with and master the topic.

Young people with attention challenges can find it even more difficult to double-check and focus on their work instead of the short-term goal of completing it. With the right strategies, we can help these students better apply self-monitoring skills to their homework assignments.

Strategies for Building Self-Monitoring Skills in Students

As students move into middle and high school their assignments become more challenging and time consuming, requiring a change in study habits. These tips for building better self-monitoring behaviors at home can help your own child learn more from their homework, and help teachers provide better resources and recommendations for students and parents.

1. Create a Place to Focus

It is much easier to pay attention and self-monitor when we are away from distractions. Students should have a place to do homework that is free of visual distractions like windows and television screens. Sound from other areas of the house should be minimized, although soft music may help some students to concentrate. Lighting should be soft and the chair comfortable. Creating a pleasant workspace with all the necessary supplies allows students to stay in place longer and achieve more.

2. Spend a Set Amount of Time on Homework

Set aside a specific amount of time for homework each night or on a set schedule. The amount will vary depending on daily coursework and long-term projects, but 60-90 minutes per night is generally expected for middle school students. When students are learning to slow down and pay attention, finishing early will leave time for them to check over their work. Any remaining time can be spent on organizing, prioritizing, and studying areas of interest, rather than rushing on to other activities.

Schedule homework for a time when your child is at their best. If they need a break or snack after school before settling down to homework, be mindful of those needs. Students who take medication for ADHD or other learning differences may be experiencing ‘crashes’ that make it difficult to focus on homework in the evenings. Your healthcare professional may be able to adjust dosages or timing of medication to help prevent these effects.

3. Encourage Children to Prioritize and Organize

One important aspect of self-monitoring is to prioritize work and complete it in the most logical order. Talk with your student about how to manage competing priorities, and encourage them to lay out a plan or list of tasks and put them in the order they intend to complete them. Spending time evaluating the work in front of them and organizing their approach will help them feel capable and ready to accomplish great things.

4. Put the Phone on Pause

Of the distractions that stand in the way of homework, your child’s cell phone is at the top of the list. During the designated homework time, encourage your child to turn off their phone and charge it in another room.

While there might be cases where your child needs to reach out to a classmate or teacher for help, the distraction of normal messages going by on a nearby cell phone makes it very challenging to pay attention to homework. An important part of self-monitoring is claiming uninterrupted time for your other priorities.

5. Emphasize the Value of Double-Checking and Review

Student going back and reviewing through his text book

The minds of young people move quickly and are adept at taking in new information. However, these two strengths can combine into a weakness when students do not spend enough time focusing on the instructions or double-checking their answers.

Encourage young learners to read the instructions twice before they begin, and spend a moment planning their work. When they are finished, double-checking should be standard practice. Not only does a final check allow for corrections and changes that improve the end result, it reinforces the topic and helps with retention of the information learned from the assignment.

6. Use Teaching Models That Match Their Learning Style

There are ways to tailor the coursework and scheduling to better match a student’s strengths and natural learning style. While homework and projects can have great value in reinforcing classroom lectures and reading assignments, they can also become an overwhelming workload when one teacher is not aware of the assignments and deadlines for other classes. Sometimes homework is assigned not for the value it has but to keep students ‘busy.’

You might have options to speak with your child’s teachers about excessive homework and can seek accommodations through an individualized education program (IEP) if your child is recognized as one who learns differently. There are also private schools that offer a customized learning experience that can better align with the strengths of your student. A one-on-one learning experience allows the teacher to provide a focus that will help your child excel in school and rediscover their love of learning.

Homework for Parents

Happy Lydian Academy Student

If your child’s classroom and lesson plan was fully focused on their strengths and areas for growth, how much easier might it be for them to fully engage with their homework and be proud of their achievements? At Lydian Academy, we offer a fully personalized approach for middle and high school students.

With a teacher-student ratio of 1:1, there is no better way to help your child discover their potential and achieve their academic goals. Lydian offers middle and high school students fully accredited coursework with flexible scheduling and rolling enrollment. Attendance can be in person at our campuses in Burlingame and Menlo Park, CA, by one-to-one virtual classrooms, or a combination of both.

Contact us today to learn more about enrolling your child with Lydian Academy or schedule a virtual open house to explore the possibilities and understand the differences that an individualized approach to learning can make for your child.

We offer a unique year-round one-on-one learning experience, personalized to you and your schedule.

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