This article is written by a member of our expert blogging community.
In the perfect world all youth would finish homework at the same time. They would all finish with the science experiment at the same time, finish eating snack at the same time, be picked up at the same time, and so it goes. While in some ways, that might appear to be perfect, it would also mean that we are either working with only one student or somehow we’ve managed to clone them. Every person is unique and that is really what makes them interesting. The challenge for those of us who work with youth in groups is how do we manage the, “I’m finished, what next?” question often posed each day, especially during homework time.
It’s essential that we balance the “what next.” It needs to be interesting enough to act as an incentive for student to finish the homework as quickly as possible, but not so interesting that they want to race through the homework or fabricate a story about being finished when they’re not. One of the ways you can do this is to teach a math game, using dice, dominoes, or cards as random number generators, during your regular program. If it’s a game the youth enjoy, after a few days, move it to the homework center and have it be one of those activities they can do when homework is completed. If games are too disruptive, consider having a classroom challenge for youth to work on. You could have 10 math problems for them to solve, a vocabulary challenge highlighting key academic vocabulary for them to find in context, or maybe the class is working on a collaborative story—a sequel to the popular Diary of A Wimpy Kid series. If you are interested in promoting healthy living, have a mat for them to practice sit ups and push ups, a pedometer to wear and count the number of steps they take while walking in place, or a paper plate for them to draw a healthy snack on remembering all of the things they learned from your My Plate lessons.
Whatever you select for your “I’m finished, what’s next” activities, tie it to what you’ve been working on so you don’t need to spend your time teaching them how to do the activity. This takes your time away from the students who need your help to finish homework.
Photo via (cc) Flickr user squarepants2004j/auntyhuia