What do you do when you’ve got a great group of regular teen program participants, some awesome volunteers, and a great teen following for Outreach at the schools. . .but most of the kids have terrible grades? Some of them are failing more than one class, and most of them disappear for a week or two after progress reports go home because they’ve been grounded. What can the library do to help these teens out?
The answer wasn’t easy for me. Homework Help programs have not been successful at my library, and the homework help part of the website rarely gets used. Bringing in experts for workshops or tutoring wasn’t the answer, and neither was using online resources. My answer involved motivation, encouragement, and teens just helping each other out.
The solution came in the form of a program I called Homework Level Up (and will call Homework Club in the future) that happens in conjunction with my regular after-school programming.
Every Monday and Wednesday from 4-4:30 we have Homework Level Up, and then from 4:30-6pm we have Teen Space.During Homework time teens who are in the program room are only allowed to work on homework, read books or look at magazines, or quietly use their phones or iPods. During Teen Space we get loud and play games and stuff. My attendance has been great, for this kind of program, with an average of about 8 teens usually attending and about half of those actually doing homework or reading.
Homework Level Up has been fantastic for:
- motivating teens to focus on getting their homework done.
- having teens help each other out with problems they’re stuck on, particularly in math.
- teaching the teens an appreciation of setting aside time for homework. They realize that it’s important enough that I will make them leave the room during homework time if they’re being disruptive.
The word has also spread to other students and even parents that if a teen has an issue, problem, or project they are struggling with then they can come in and get help with it during Homework Level Up.
If you have a weekly program, try adding in a little homework-focused time to encourage your regular teen patrons to get their work done and help each other out! Ask your teens what they need help with, and figure out how you can provide that. I’ll be re-evaluating Homework Level Up at the end of this semester and making any changes I need to before the new year.