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The 5th Grader
As a student enters 5th grade, they already have about 5 years of homework behind them. But, as they approach middle school, the amount of homework increases and the level of independence required increases as well. They are entering those pre-teen years and begin to think they know it all, but still need the guidance of their teachers and parents. Fifth grade is an important year as students prepare for the increased responsibilities that accompany middle school and this 5th grade homework help can be a useful tool. Often they are presented with more long-term projects that require time management skills, math becomes more complex, and writing assignments cover more advanced concepts. Reading and science may also become more analytical. Teachers no longer check that homework is written down; the level of academic responsibility in 6th grade is greater. This can be a make-it or break-it year as students prepare students for these changes.
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The first part of helping your fifth grader with homework is to be sure he is organized. My children have an agenda that is provided to them by their school for recording their daily homework. If your child's school does not provide this, purchase a planner or small notebook where he can write down assignments. My middle schooler is able to access a classroom portal where the teacher posts homework assignments. We try not to rely on it because it does not teach him to be responsible for his assignments, but it is a nice back up. It is also useful when he misses school and we can check to see what he is missing. If your child falls behind on assignments, then when test-time comes, it will be even more difficult to be prepared.
Also be sure you keep a calendar with dates for practices, games, recitals, and other family activities at the ready. If there is a huge science project due on a Monday and you know you will be out of town the entire weekend before it's due, make sure it is done early. This will save you some late nights. There will be plenty of those in college, no need to do them now!
Now, once the work is written down, it has to make it home. Depending on what your school requires, you need to purchase some type of binder or accordion for keeping papers. We like to use something that has sections for each subject and one for homework. It provides a straight-forward way of organizing school work.
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As students enter 5th grade and work their way to middle school, they are taking more tests that require studying. Some students do not need to spend a tremendous amount of time studying....they're the lucky ones. If your child has a study guide for a test, be sure he completes it. These are an easy way to gauge what will be covered on a test and what concepts still need to be reinforced by your child. Everyone studies differently. There are several methods to choose from when studying for a test:
- Make flash cards: Use index cards and write down vocabulary or concepts to be covered. My son even has an ap on his iTouch that is called flash cards. He uses it to study vocabulary words.
- Oral quiz: Use the study guide or notes to ask your child questions. If you ask open ended questions where he has to just give up the information he will be more prepared. The more he has to put information into his own words, the more you can be sure he understands the information.
- Copy the study guide: There's a reason it is called a study guide, it's meant to guide you with what you have to study. If you can plan ahead, copy the study guide before your child fills it in. You can then give to him to fill out without the use of notes as a quiz.
- Go over notes: Take a look at the notes your child takes. You may be able to offer suggestions if they are hard to follow or understand. If his notes are not usable, then he is in for an uphill battle. Note-taking is a critical skill as students move toward middle and high school.
- Difficult information: If you find that your child is struggling with a fact or two, look for a few tricks to help with their memory. Make up a rhyme or acronym that will help remember the fact.
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One critical component of homework is the atmosphere in which you child works. Set up a study environment that will breed success. Their table or desk should be clutter free, have adequate light, and all of the materials should be near by. Some kids can work with a little background music, some can not. You have to gauge what works for your child. My kids are okay with usually saving their homework for a little later after school, some may need to get to it immediately after school. You have to tinker with what works in your home with your child. Just because the neighbor makes their kids hit the books as soon as they walk off the bus doesn't meant that will work in your home.