1st Grade Homework Helper: How to Help Your Child Do Better in School

Students in the 1st grade are still getting use to the idea of homework and may need parental help. Read on to explore homework policies for 1st graders and strategies to develop your child's academic skills.

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Homework Policies and Help Strategies

Policies

Homework policies for 1st graders vary depending on the school district and the teacher. This said, it's fairly common for 1st graders to be expected to read for 15 minutes each night, and to be assigned brief vocabulary, math or social studies assignments 1-3 nights per week. First graders may also be assigned weekly assignments that might include drawing images related to the week's learning theme, interviewing family members about a specific topic or locating new vocabulary words on a reading worksheet. Generally, homework is assigned to encourage students to develop their reading fluency and to make time after school each day to focus on schoolwork.

It's generally accepted for parents to help 1st graders complete reading assignments. Children are still learning to read at this age and may need a fair amount of help recognizing new words and understanding the meaning of sentences. Reading exercises may be designed to help your child locate common word families, such as dog, log and fog, review age-appropriate vocabulary words, recognize essential punctuation marks and practice comprehension by discussing a story's meaning and major aspects of setting, plot and character.

Math assignments may emphasize counting and writing numbers up to 100, identifying geometric shapes, adding or subtracting one-digit numbers and using pictures to explain simple problem-solving processes.

Homework Help Strategies for 1st Graders

As 1st graders are still developing their ability to sit still for more than a few minutes, it can be helpful if you sit with your child while he does his homework. To encourage your 1st grader to do homework each day, designate a study area in a specific corner of his room. Together, you can decorate this area with images from his favorite stories. Make sure to stock his study space with pencils, erasers, rulers, paper, scissors and crayons.

Since reading is essential to 1st grade learning, you can help your child develop the skills she'll need by reading aloud to her everyday. To improve her language pronunciation skills, you can also have her read aloud to you from books that match her reading level. As she reads, ask her questions to grow her capacity to pay attention while she's reading. For example, you can ask her to define a particular place described in the text or see if she can predict what will happen next.

If you come across vocabulary words your child doesn't understand, discuss the meaning with him and write down the word on a note card. Then you can practice this new vocabulary word by using it in different contexts throughout the week. Once your child is familiar with the word, ask him to use it in a variety of sentences. Another fun way to practice reading and writing is to help your child communicate with a pen-pal or to ask family members to write letters to your child, which he can then respond to in writing.

Students with strong reading and math skills are at an advantage in school, thus you might consider practicing these skills in unique ways during non-school hours. Help your child understand the basic idea of fractions when cutting up birthday cake, for example, by pointing out that one piece of cake is part of a whole cake. Further, if you ask your child to count the pieces in a birthday cake, you can then explain how much cake one piece represents. Timing how long it takes your child to count her crayons or sort her markers by color and seeing if she can beat her last time can be another way to make learning fun. Applying the skills she's learning to her everyday life can help her see the real-life value of her education.

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