Tips to Help Your Kids Get in Their “Homework Zone”
With so many schools incorporating technology as part of their curriculum, kids are becoming used to using digital tools for school, homework, and learning in general. We decided to show our kids additional digital tools that can assist with learning now and in the future. These tools can also help our kids become more independent with their homework—which makes everyone in the family happy. Here are some of our favorite digital homework helpers.
Grammarly is a great tool to help kids learn to edit their essays and to write using appropriate grammar, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. There are browser extensions to use if they type their essays online, and even a version you can use with Microsoft Word. Prompts will point out weak prepositions, passive voice, and even “squinting modifiers”! My sons enjoy being able to edit on their own, only coming to us when they have questions or need another opinion on their writing. Being able to edit and write papers are important skills, especially as kids move out of primary school and into high school...
Khan Academy Math: Now that my twins are in seventh grade, helping them with math can be a challenge. If they are having trouble with some math concepts, we appreciate that their teachers are open to spending time with them during lunch or recess to answer questions. But even their teachers have offered the alternative of watching a Khan Academy video to review math concepts they need to practice or don’t understand.
Audio Books: One of my sons prefers to listen to audio books instead of reading. We signed up for a website called Audible, which has an incredible selection of audiobooks recorded by professional voice artists. Sometimes he listens to the audio book using his laptop and other times he uses the Audible app on his phone. His “bookmark” in the book is managed in the cloud, so he picks up from wherever he was, no matter what device he is using to read. There are also other audiobook services such as Overdrive and even one specific for those with learning differences like dyslexia, called Learning Alley.
Dictation websites and apps: Another of our sons prefers dictation to writing or typing. Along with getting approval to load dictation apps onto his school tablet, we also use dictation software including Dragon Dictate’s NaturallySpeaking and also Google Voice Typing from his laptop. Dictating essays and homework writing assignments help him organize his thoughts and quickly get a draft down on paper.
Flashcard apps: Using flashcards to study for tests is an important tool. Because my boys don’t like to write (and they sometimes can’t read their own writing), we introduced them to a flashcard app that allows them to create their own flashcards to study by typing.
Reference Websites: One of the challenges of researching information for homework is finding the right websites to visit. We like to find websites that are from the “source” such as Kids.gov for information on the government, National Geographic or Britannica for information about the world, and NASA for space.
Homework Zone: We also find it is important for our boys to set up designated homework areas with homework supplies, good lighting, and a comfortable place to sit. One of our boys is what we call “squirmy” so we purchased an exercise ball with a structure that turns it into a chair. That way he can sit to do homework and still squirm. Sometimes we find our boys like sitting on their beds or even under a tree in our backyard to do homework. We told them to do whatever makes them feel “in the homework zone.”
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About the author:
Beth Blecherman pivoted from Senior Manager, Deloitte, to a journalist and consultant covering lifestyle, tech, social media and growth marketing. Past articles included Laptop Magazine and Mashable. Her website TechMamas.com (Twitter @TechMama) was on lists such as Forbes Top 100 Websites for Women and AlwaysOn’s List of Power Players in Technology Business Media. Her speaking engagements included BlogHer, UC Berkeley Extension, 500 Startups, Draper University, CES and SXSW.