Structuring Homework Papers


Get Ready, Get Set….Before You Can Go!

Taking the time to properly set up homework assignments is one homework habit that your child simply cannot do without. By following these simple homework paper guidelines, you can encourage the production of quality work, enable your child to easily find completed assignments, and reduce the frequency of careless errors in assignments.

Proper Headings: Simply placing the following information at the top of each and every homework assignment sets the stage for a more organized and useful homework product.

-Child's Full Name- Let's face it, receiving credit for completing homework assignments is next to impossible if the teacher receives anonymous papers. Likewise, if homework papers accidentally fall out of looseleaf binders or folders as they sometimes do, they will more likely be returned to the proper owner or teacher if names are written on them.

-Date of Completion- Knowing when an assignment was completed is a useful piece of information for students especially when filing or retrieving assignments into or out of their looseleaf binders.

-Subject Area- Believe it or not, it can be a challenge for young students to classify and file away assignments according to subject. Writing down the subject area (i.e., Math, English, Social Studies, Science, etc.) as part of the assignment heading can help to insure that completed work does not get misplaced or filed behind the wrong binder tab or in the wrong folder. Finding Science homework can be tricky when it is placed in your Social Studies folder, and studying for a Math test can be difficult if examples are missing or misfiled under other areas. You may wish to double check that the correct subject areas are written down and filed properly until students get the hang of this important skill.

-Room Number- If your child has a homeroom or a room where lost papers, folders or binders can be returned, it would be wise to list it on each paper.

Page Numbers: If your child is answering questions or completing problems from a textbook, it is important to list the textbook page number(s) at the top of the looseleaf paper or in the margin. Remember to have them include the words "Page #" along with the number itself so that the number does not appear to be some unknown digit that is perhaps part of one of the homework problems. Frequently, teachers will refer to homework assignments by textbook page numbers especially when multiple assignments are due.

Problem Numbers: It is essential that problem numbers be clearly written directly next to answers, and that the problem number itself is circled to set it apart. If problem numbers are not circled they run the risk of becoming part of a mathematical calculation. For example Problem #1 is the calculation 2 + 3 = ? …. not, 12 + 3 =? Many careless errors occur when proper care is not taken. Just as important is your child's ability to locate his answer when called upon in class. Without problem numbers, it is difficult to check the accuracy of work and to participate with confidence.

Breathing Space: Work that is crammed into a small section of the looseleaf paper is more difficult to read and correct. Math problems are especially more likely to be incorrect if they are not given enough space for careful computation. It is best to skip spaces between problems and to concentrate on writing legibly and large enough to prevent careless errors. It is worth the investment of a few extra pages of looseleaf in order to improve homework appearance and accuracy.


Save All Work: Writing out the entire problem and saving all the work, especially when it comes to math calculations, may seem like a waste of time, but is extremely helpful when answers are discovered to be incorrect. If a mistake has been made along the way and only a number is listed for an answer, it is difficult to know where the student went wrong. The error could have been caused merely by a miscalculation or could be the result of a deeper error in the student's understanding or processing.

Include Model Problems: If your child is experiencing difficulty with a particular type of problem, it would be helpful to write down a sample problem at the top of his homework page. This similar type of problem can be taken from class notes or textbooks and be used by the student as a guide for completing others like it. This technique is especially helpful when working on trickier math computations such as long division or fractions.

Scrap Paper: The same process done for homework papers should be done for scrap papers as well. Getting into the habit of numbering problems, writing legibly and leaving adequate space can be extremely beneficial when test taking as well. Checking the accuracy of your work is next to impossible if scrap paper is nothing more than a useless gibberish of calculations. Finding and correcting errors, especially when your time is limited, is much easier when proper formatting is used.

Graph Paper: Another trick of the trade is using large grid graph paper when necessary. Remember that neatness can make or break a problem, especially in Mathematics. For example, using graph paper for long division problems or long multiplication problems will help keep numbers aligned properly so that careless errors are kept to a minimum. Simply write the problem down by placing one digit in each graph box. This curbs young children's tendencies to slant the problems and numbers so that it is difficult to distinguish one column from another.

Computer Use: If your family has access to a computer, find out if children are permitted by the teacher to complete homework assignments using a word processor and spell checker. Encourage them to use some of the same techniques listed above. Most importantly, take the time to teach your child how to save work periodically and use meaningful file names. It is just as important to be able to locate and retrieve homework assignments from the computer as it is to retrieve them from a looseleaf binder.


By using these simple techniques, your child can make a habit of more effective and efficient homework completion. Remember that the overall appearance of a homework assignment says a great deal about the care with which it was completed. Not only does sloppiness and lack of structure make assignments more difficult to read and locate, but is the culprit of many careless errors. Help children to take pride in their work by paying close attention to the presentation. It's worth the effort!!!

For additional information, see Homework Help! at


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