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Homework Club

During the school term, teaching staff remain at school after the school day officially finishes to assist students with their homework and study. Generally this runs throughout the year from week two to week nine of each term.

Homework Club runs over two days: Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

We encourage students to come along, enjoy some afternoon tea and utilise the teaching staff to help with their homework and study.

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The Reaching Up Homework Club is an after-school program that helps school-aged-children (Grades 1-8) complete their homework with the support of Reaching Up staff. It is an ideal option for working parents or new immigrant families with language barriers who are unable to assist their children with challenging homework tasks. The Homework Program runs from Monday to Friday at 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. 

Based on the needs of the student, we tailor the experience and resources used..

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1 – On – 1

Some students need individual assistance depending on their current level and need.  we work the student to help them catch up their grade level., independent, once a student has established their confidence, they are able to work on their own completing the work either assigned from school or on work assigned by the program director., to help the children develop social skills, we have them participate in group work/ activities., as part of the group work, we will give some of the older children increasing responsibilities and have them act as mentors for the younger ones..

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The Peanut Butter and Jelly Guide to Organizing a Homework Club (1996)


What Is a Homework Club?

Getting Started

A typical homework club session, successful tutoring in the homework club, tips for the first session, tips for improving reading, tips for improving writing, tips for improving spelling, tips for improving math.

Some Secrets of Our Success

  • Ideas for Community Outreach
  • Ideas for Fund-raising
  • Tips for Choosing Books

Suggested Further Reading

Hello there. Thank you for picking up this little booklet. It was written for anyone who wants to help the children in their community to do better in school. It is written for people who want to start a Homework Club.

We are members of the Frontier College: Youth Service Canada project who have organized and run 12 homework clubs in Metro Toronto Housing Authority (MTHA) buildings. Frontier College has been working for almost 100 years to help Canadians with their reading and writing skills. Youth Service Canada is a program of the federal government which recruits young people to do something useful in their communities. Through this initiative, we learn skills which will help us in our life journeys.

The information in this booklet is based on our experience as Frontier College: Youth Service Canada participants. In our work in the Homework Clubs, we realized that there are lots of kids out there who hate homework. These are kids who usually have trouble reading and writing. Few of them get help. So they get frustrated, teachers get frustrated, eventually many of these kids drop out of school and everyone blames the system.

We believe that everyone should be involved in helping the children in our neighbourhoods with their homework so that they are successful in school. There are children in every corner of our country from coastal Labrador to Vancouver Island, who need our support.

We invite you to start a Homework Club in your neighbourhood so you can begin to make a difference. Once you have organized Homework Club with some of your neighbours, you will realize how much you enjoy it and how important it is. Good luck!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead

What is a Homework Club?

A Homework Club is a space where kids can come after school to do their homework with support from adult volunteers. It can be in a community centre, a subsidized housing building, a school, a church basement – anywhere really. It is a place where learning, reading, writing, and math are valued and celebrated. All it takes to organize a homework club in your neighbourhood is a few caring people who want to do it, a little thought and planning, a few kids, and lots of enthusiasm!

First, get a few friends together who want to start a Homework Club with you and form a Homework Club Committee . The Homework Club Committee is very important. Without one, no club will last very long. Each member of the Homework Club Committee takes on one or more of the following tasks:

  • Find a location in the neighbourhood for your Homework Club. (Try party rooms in apartment buildings, church basements, free space in libraries, etc.)
  • Recruit and train other volunteers/parents to tutor or to supervise.
  • Do outreach in the community to let people know about your homework club. (See more on community outreach in the Appendices .)
  • Fund-raise/find donors to provide snacks, books, and supplies. (See more on fund-raising in the Appendices .)
  • Make snacks for the children.
  • Meet regularly to deal with Homework Club issues.
  • Liaise with local schools and teachers so you know what the kids are learning in the classroom so that Homework Club activities are tied to what’s happening in the classroom.
  • Organize events to recognize the achievements of the children and volunteers.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Committee. A dedicated Committee is the key to a successful Homework Club.

A typical Homework Club meets after school for about an hour and a half.

This is the general set-up:

  • Volunteers/parents should arrive twenty minutes early to set out the snacks and drinks, organize the books, and get ready to welcome the kids.
  • When children arrive the volunteers should welcome them, give them a snack (kids like this), and take attendance.
  • Get down to helping with homework assignments as soon as possible. Pairing up, one-to-one, usually works best since children are always at different levels of learning.
  • Children who do not have homework to do, can read or do educational activities such as word searches and other puzzles, journal writing, etc.
  • Allow time for a fifteen minute break.
  • After the break, have a volunteer read a story out loud. Follow this with a short discussion about the story.
  • After the story involve the children in educational games or activities (spelling bee, hangman, name/place/animal/thing, etc.).
  • At the end of the session, ask children and volunteers to put away the materials and clean up the room.
  • Thank the children for coming and ask them to come back next time.

Good tutors are made, not born. People often get a bit nervous when they have to help children with homework. But, there is nothing to fear. Helping kids with reading, writing, and math is fairly easy if you have the right attitude, enough patience, and a sense of creativity. If you can read, write, and do basic math, you can help a child with homework.

Following are some tips on how to be a good tutor:

  • Be enthusiastic about learning!
  • Be patient. Every child is different and special. Children learn in different ways. What takes one child a week to learn, may only take another an hour.
  • Be encouraging. A word of encouragement goes a long way.
  • Read aloud at every session. Let the child choose the story.
  • Think of fun ways to help her. For example, when teaching spelling, use word searches.
  • Encourage the children to read. In our experience, many children have difficulty with reading. Research shows that children who have trouble reading also have trouble doing their homework.

Here are three ways you can help a young child read and understand his homework assignment:

  • Have her read the instructions out loud with you.
  • Ask her to tell you what she thinks the assignment is about.
  • Explain anything she may have missed.

At your first meeting:

  • Introduce yourself to the child and get to know him a little. What are his interests? Does he like school? What are his favourite subjects? Does he like to read? Who are his favourite writers? Successful tutors take the time to get to know the children they tutor. The tutoring experience will be most rewarding if you like each other.
  • Ask the child to write a sentence or two about anything. His writing will reveal his strengths and the areas he needs help with.
  • Begin a file of the child’s work. He can decorate the folder and put his name on it. Review the work from time to time to see how he has progressed.
  • Encourage the child to get a library card. The ability to use the library and enjoy it are important for success at school. Most children will have to ‘look things up’ or do research at some time in their life as a student. Using the library for enjoyment builds confidence for when the time comes to use it for school.

Make sure there are lots of good books, magazines (like Sports Illustrated and various music-centred magazines) and newspapers available at the Homework Club. (See the section on tips for choosing books in the Appendices .)

When you are reading with a child:

  • Give her clues as to what the word may be, then ask her to take a guess at it.
  • If the child didn’t bring homework, let her choose the book you will read.
  • Allow her to look at the book ahead of time, so she has an idea of what the story is about.
  • Make a list of problem words and ask her to study the words. You can have her spell the words for you another day.
  • Re-read the book a few times (praise her for improvement).
  • Read aloud with her and stop reading from time to time so she is reading by herself. Help her out when she has trouble with a word. Try giving her an example of what the letters in the word sound like.

Reading and writing go hand-in-hand. A good reader generally tends to be a good writer. If you are working with a child who does not know how to or does not like to write, some of the following suggestions may help:

For younger children who are learning how to form letters:

  • Write the problem letter on a piece of paper.
  • Next to it, make dots that outline the shape of the letter.
  • Ask him to connect the dots.
  • After some practice, ask him to write the letter without your help.
  • Offer plenty of praise and encouragement.

For older children who already know how to form letters:

  • Ask the child to make lists of her favourite (basketball, football, hockey, etc.) players. Perhaps she could write a grocery list for her mom or dad.
  • Help her to keep a daily journal. One sentence a day is fine.
  • As she gets more confident, ask her to write a paragraph about something. If she is stuck, she can use a web drawing (see diagram) to get started. A web drawing involves choosing a topic and writing any ideas the child has about that topic. For each idea, have her write a couple of sentences. Arrange the sentences so that they make sense.
  • Encourage the child to write. Don’t worry about the writing being perfect.

Web Drawing:

  • There are many types of tree. In the world. Some special trees are redwood tree, pine trees, baobab trees, and eucalyptus trees.
  • Trees have many parts – leaves, flower, seeds, trunk, bark, branches, and roots.
  • Trees give us many products – wood, to make furniture and paper, fruits to eat, and seeds to plant. Some trees give us medicines. Trees give us oxygen.
  • Millions of trees are cut down every day to meet our needs. These trees need to be replaced. In many countries, like Canada, the government re-plants new trees when the old ones are cut.

Spelling is not as big a deal as some people make it out to be. Many famous authors are horrible spellers. Most people learn to spell by seeing a word over and over again and memorizing it. (See the Key Words section in the Appendices .)

Here are a few hints to help a child with spelling:

  • Use the word in a sentence. This may make it easier for the child to recognize the word.
  • Ask him to write the problem word(s) a few times, then have him spell it for you from memory. The words that he has trouble with can be written in a “word bank.” A word bank is the child’s own dictionary, containing words that he has trouble with. Ask him to practise the words in his word bank everyday until he is comfortable with them.
  • Ask him to make smaller words out of a large one. This exercise helps increase vocabulary and improve spelling.
  • Play games like “spelling bee” or “hangman.”

See the section on Tips for Improving Reading for more ideas that may help with spelling.

We all know how important an understanding of basic math is. Do everything you can to help children enjoy math. Many of the kids in the Homework Clubs have difficulties with math, often because they cannot read well enough to understand the question.

Here are some ideas to help a child who is having difficulty with math:

  • Help the child learn her multiplication (times) tables. Knowing the multiplication tables will help her with other math functions. Write the table on a piece of paper and have the child memorize it. You can help her practise by having a math bee, just like a spelling bee.
  • When you are helping a younger child with adding and subtracting, use seeds, stones, or coins.

Whenever possible, use games to teach math skills. Monopoly, cribbage, and snakes and ladders can all help children learn basic math skills and they are fun.

Some of Our Secrets of Success

From our experience, the following ideas work well:

  • Reward children for coming to the Homework Club. Give each child a star or other sticker for coming out, and after they have come to 15 sessions, give them some sort of prize. This kind of incentive is sure to keep kids coming back.
  • Celebrate success. Have a party every three months. Ask a celebrity reader (mail carrier, firefighter, police officer, local politicians, etc.) to come and read a story. Invite parents, siblings, and grandparents to come and share in the success of the children.
  • Always acknowledge the contributions of donors and volunteers. (Have the children write thank you letters, for instance.)
  • Decorate the space with kid’s artwork, stories, etc. Make sure there are lots of good quality, culturally appropriate books around to encourage children to read.
  • Be enthusiastic!

A. Ideas for Community Outreach

  • Design and distribute a simple flyer to advertise your Homework Club. The flyer should tell when (date and time) and where the Homework Club is. (See illustration.)
  • Distribute the flyer door-to-door, put it up at the local mall, take it to the neighbourhood elementary school.
  • Tell everyone! Word of mouth Is the best way to get people out.

B. Ideas for Fund-raising

  • Decide what you need. Mostly you will be looking for supplies, prizes, and snacks. Get a commitment from all your volunteers to do some fund-raising.
  • Together, make a list of all the people you can approach.
  • Write to each individual or organization on the list telling them a little bit about your Homework Club and what you would like from them. (You’ll be surprised at the response you get. For our Homework Club we were able to get books, cookies, and paper donated.)
  • Be sure to send thank-you letters.

C. Tips for Choosing Books

  • Get advice from your local librarian on which books to borrow.
  • Have a wide selection of attractive and culturally appropriate materials.
  • Borrow new books regularly.
  • Look for activities that involve reading. Act out the story. Learn a trick from a magic book and show the others.

D. Key Words

Reprinted from Core Literacy Tutor Training Manual (1990), with permission from Don McCracken.

Carpenter, Tracy. The Right to Read – Tutor’s Handbook . Toronto: Frontier College Press, 1986.

Dryden, Ken. In School . Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995.

Jones, Donald M. Tutoring – One-to-one . Peterborough: Paedagogus Publishing Inc., 1994.

Kropp, Paul. The Reading Solution . Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1993.

Kropp, Paul and Lynda Hodson. The School Solution . Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1995.

Landsberg, Michele. Michele Landsburg’s Guide to Children’s Books . Toronto: Penguin Books of Canada, 1990.

Frontier College would like to acknowledge the financial help of Bank of Montreal in producing this booklet.

Four individuals were instrumental in creating The Peanut Butter and Jelly Guide to Organizing a Homework Club . They are Robin Allmand, Harold Astudillo, Marchia Palmer, and Nancy Skinner.

The coordinators of the Frontier College: Youth Service Canada Project are Philip Fernandez and Rita Mancini.

The other members of the Frontier College: Youth Service Canada Project are Odessa Austin, Yohan A. C. Byrde, Dawn Charlton, Barrington S. Gibbs, Mohamud A. Hamza, Dwayne Jackson, Tracey-Ann Suzette Murray, Sandra Ormsby, Jodi Price, O’Neil Anthony Robinson, Catherine M. Samuel, and Olé-Tunjie Vaz.

Frontier College Press 35 Jackes Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M4T 1E2 (416) 923-3591, fax: (416)323-3522, 1-800-555-6523

Converted to HTML by Stephen Hong

<<For an illustrated and bound copy of this publication, please contact Frontier College .>>

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