Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Homework Tips for a Successful School Year

Now that most students have been in school for a few weeks, the challenge of completing homework may be starting.  Many students struggle with completing their homework each night in a timely, accurate, productive way without getting frustrated.  There are several strategies a student can take to minimize homework struggles each night of the week.

First, a student must have a homework plan of action or schedule.  The student needs to take into account several factors and variables.  The first one is after school activities and sports.  Make out a schedule of the days and times of all obligations. Then, figure out what time and for how long you have to complete your homework.  Once the schedule is determined, a plan of action will follow.  I recommend having a healthy snack before completing homework especially if you will be working right after school.  Breaks should be taken often to keep your mind sharp and boredom at bay.  A good study area without distractions is important.  A student should have a quiet area, with plenty of desk space, and appropriate school supplies to be affective. 

Next, the student should determine the order in which homework should be completed.  There are many different strategies to follow, but the best one I have seen is to complete the homework from hardest to easiest.  Whatever subject is the most difficult for the student, this homework should be completed first.  Also, assignments that are due the next day should be completed before long-term assignments are tackled.  If a student has 20 math problems to complete for class the next day and an essay to write for English that is due the next week, the math homework should be finished first.  Then, the student should work for 20-30 minutes on the essay each night so that the night before it is due he/she will not have to spend hours completing the assignment.

The next question is usually, how long should a student spend doing his/her homework.  Of course this depends on the grade of the student.  Here are some guidelines to follow:

1st Grade:              20 minutes
2-4th Grades:  30 minutes
5-6th Grades:            1 hour
7-8th Grades:  1 hour – 1 ½ hours
9-12th Grades:  30 minutes per subject

Any more time spent than these guidelines usually proves to be overwhelming and counter-productive for the student.

Please do not forget about study time and notes review.  In my opinion, there is no such thing as, “Oh, I don’t have any homework tonight, the teacher did not assign anything.”  Even if there is no assignment due the next day, a student should always review their class notes from that day or re-read the current chapter in the textbook.  Time should be spent every night studying the current material and reviewing past material.  True learning comes from students retaining knowledge in their long-term memories rather than cramming it in their short- term memories for a test.  Through constant review and recycling of the material, a student will gain true learning. 

Lastly, if a student is truly struggling with completing his/her homework each night, it may be time to seek out a private in-home tutor.  A private tutor can help a student complete his/her homework, but they can do so much more than this.  A private in-home tutor can help a student gain confidence in school with the subject matter and improve his/her grades.  If a student is struggling early on in the school year, the longer a parent waits to find the student help, the more difficult it will be for the student to succeed in the class.  Aim for the Stars Tutoring out of Douglas County, Colorado provides in-home, one-on-one tutoring for students in all subjects and grades.  For more information, please visit our website at:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tips for a Successful School Year

It is the first week of August and many students will be starting back to school within the next few weeks. Depending on how your school year went last year, you may need to make some adjustments or improvements to your life and schedule to ensure a successful school year. Below are five tips to a great school year.

First, you need to get organized. You should start by collecting all the school supplies you will need for the year. If you are in elementary or middle school, your teacher may give you a list of what you need. If you are in high school and you don’t have a list think about what worked for you last year and what didn’t work for you. For example do you want a separate notebook for each subject or one big 3 ring binder that holds everything? After you have gathered your school supplies, you must organize your desk for elementary or your locker for older students. Have a place for pens and pencils, another place for your textbooks and notebooks, and a place for your personal items. Your locker is your home away from home at school so it also helps to put up pictures or drawings that make you smile. Lastly, you must organize your study area at home. Clear off your desk or workspace so you have some place to study and do your homework at home.

Second, I recommend meeting your teachers before school starts. It might seem a little nerdy for high school students, but it is very important to meet your teachers before all the other kids do. It gives a great first impression that you are excited and interested in learning. On the first day of school, your teachers will be meeting so many new students and you will have the advantage of already knowing your teacher. He/she will remember you better and be more likely to help you from the beginning.

Third, evaluate your schedule. It is so important to create a feasible after school schedule for yourself. You must set aside homework time, preferably at the same time each day. You should evaluate your extra-curricular activities. You do not want to overbook yourself with clubs, sports, music classes, and whatever else you are involved in. If you over-extend yourself, your studies will suffer. Don’t forget to include some down time when you can rest, watch TV, and hang out with friends and family.

Fourth, stay current with all of your assignments and readings from the first day of school. This may sound obvious, but so many students don’t do this. The first week of school, each of your teachers wants you to read a chapter in the textbook for next week. You think to yourself, I have all week to get this done and then Sunday night arrives and you are supposed to read 5 chapters all together by the next day. Don’t let yourself get into this situation. You won’t be able to get it done and you are already behind 5 days into the new school year.

Fifth, if you do fall behind, find a tutor immediately. Often times, students can easily become lost in a large classroom full of students. Or, they might feel embarrassed asking questions in front of the class. This is why a one-on-one at home tutor is so important to have. A student will be comfortable in his/her own home and will be able to ask as many questions as necessary in a safe environment.

Aim for the Stars Tutoring offers just this service in Douglas County, Colorado. We tutor students in grades K-12 in all subjects. There are no long term contracts and no testing fees. Get started early to get a jump on the new school year! Check out our website: We tutor students in Castle Rock, Parker, Highlands Ranch, and most cities in Douglas County.