Homework: Taming the Beast

Homework: Taming the Beast I don’t think anyone likes homework. You might be interested in something you’re learning, and you might even enjoy working on a paper or project…but not at home. Home is for sleeping, texting your friends, shooting hoops in the driveway, and video games. Right? Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, as long as you’re in school, you probably won’t get that utopian existence. You’re going to have homework, and even more if you’re distracted during class. Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but all it takes is a little organization to tame the beast so that you still have time for fun and relaxation. Here are some tried and true ways to do that:

General Organization

  • Keep track of your assignments by writing them down as they are given.  Use an Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscapeassignment book or an assignment sheet kept in your binder, in the front. Even just a piece of notebook paper that you take care not to lose can do the trick. Be sure to write down the assignment accurately, the class that it is for, and the due date.
  • Copy down all the information a teacher gives you on the board or overhead. Listen to and write down oral instructions as well.
  • Save all handouts and organize them by subject in your 3-ring binder. Homework is not complete until all the day’s papers are placed in the appropriate section.

Effective Binder Set-up:

  • Isaac's homework 2Use a 3-ring binder (1 ½-2 inches) with rings that LOCK and pockets on each side. You might consider buying one with accordian folders inside so that you don’t have to keep opening and closing the rings.
  • Include enough dividers for each class, place them in order in your binder with the tabs labeled.
  • Place blank notebook paper in the back.
  • Purchase pocket dividers without tabs, and place one in the front of the binder. Label one side “Hand In” and the other side “To Do.” Consider including a second pocket divider to store parts of an ongoing project or assignment until it’s completed and ready to hand in. A folder with pockets will work, too.
  • Use sticky notes or tabs to mark assignments for which you have questions (place inside binder pocket).
  • Consider including a flat 3-hole punch that can be put away in the binder, using the rings. Note: plastic ones break easily; look for a metal one.
  • The assignment sheet or assignment notebook should be placed in front of the pocket dividers or in the front pocket of the binder itself.

School supplies to keep in your backpack or locker

  • Binder (see above)
  • Post-it notes and/or sticky tabs
  • Calculator, compass, protractor, ruler
  • Scissors, colored pencils, glue sticks
  • Extra papers, pencils, pens, and pencil eraser tops.

Effective Home Study Habits

  • Begin homework right after school.
  • A well-lit table or desk in a quiet area is the best choice of where to study.
  • Budget your time by looking over all assignments and prioritizing.
  • Take a brief break after every 20-30 minutes of hard work.
  • Plan ahead and have all needed materials within reach.
  • Review your work to look for mistakes and to retain the information.
  • Review notes you took in class that day.
  • Organize handouts, notes, and assignments in the appropriate places in your binder.

These are ideas that have worked for students I know. Do you have other ideas that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Photo Citation for lion tamer: George Brinton Beal Papers, Circus Collection, and Other Theatrical Collections, 1862-1969 (MS Thr 675). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.

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