At the end of a long day the battle over homework is one no family wants to fight. Sometimes it seems there is no winner; to micromanage and nag gets you nowhere and to play it cool and leave it up to the kid can leave you stressed that they aren’t doing it. We combed the internet, reading every list written by teacher, parent, psychologist, and expert and came up with these 5 Helpful Homework Tips to bring harmony back into your household.
- CHOOSE A TIME While every day can look a little different (violin recital one day, soccer practice the next) try to choose a time that works for most days. Every teacher, parent, and doctor suggested getting homework done earlier rather than later, maximizing the amount of time between finishing homework and the next day of school. Allow time after school for a brief period of play and a snack and then dive right in! Some children will operate better when given a choice, a controlled choice that is, of when to do their homework. So setting time parameters “you can do your homework anytime between 3 PM- 5PM” offers power to the child to decide. Pay attention to your child’s rhythms in the day and offer a window of time that best fits their ways.
- CREATE THE SPACE It is probably obvious to say that all cell phones, TV’s ,and games should be off and put away to limit distraction but it is also suggested to look at the other items that could lure your child’s attention away. For younger children it can be as simple as their favorite toy lurking in eye sight, for older kids it can be sitting near a window and hearing other kids playing. The space you create can dictate the success of the time spent on homework. So have everything they may need available to avoid breaks in concentration. Also be ready to mix it up, sometimes the best place is a completely new place. Try offering your own desk at home, or going to the library one day. While consistency is key don’t ignore when a change of scenery is in order.
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN Create a list of 3-4 classmates that you or your child can call if they forget an assignment, need some help or even better can do a few tasks over the phone together. This can create a fun atmosphere and a change from the solitary work; FaceTime for vocabulary words, or call each other up to go over math results. For older kids planning ahead can involve more support. Try creating a checklist each day of the things that need to be done or work at “scaffolding” larger assignments. Help them estimate how long each step of the project will take, build a calendar (include everything including extracurricular activities and family needs) and feel confident that slow and steady will win the race.
- BUILD CONFIDENCE FIRST Younger kids, K- 3rd grade, often rely on instant feedback. That doesn’t mean that everything needs to be praise, feel free to correct a mistake but follow it up with positive feedback on a specific improvement. Work towards building their confidence in the assignment with all kids by investing time in doing the first few together. This avoids the problem of kids getting down and being intimidated after getting the first few wrong. If a child is truly struggling then continue on with help but make a note that the homework was done with the help of a parent. This might be hard for a kid but you can explain that homework is there to practice what you know and show your teacher what you need help with.
- LET THEM VENT Young or old everyone just wants to be heard when they are frustrated. When a child is feeling overwhelmed by homework try to listen, empathize and restate their feelings back to them. Once the child feels understood they may be more open to hearing your suggestions and better able to focus. While this next part may elicit mixed reviews, many experts say to not be afraid to call it quits sometimes (not every week of course). If the assignment feels vague, your child really doesn’t understand it, or if your kid is just too exhausted try cutting the assignment in half. Accompany the homework with a note to the teacher and have the chid follow up in person to explain the circumstances.
QUICK FIXES TO COMMON PROBLEMS
- Whiners? Leave the room. Kids who incessantly whine are often attempting to drag the process out and avoid doing the actual work. So while you are encouraged to listen if it goes from an occasional venting session to an every night whine-fest try removing yourself from the room. Remain available but not hovering as to encourage the complaining.
- Procrastinators? Try creating a “beat the clock” game. Set a timer for 5 minutes and shout “GO!” Sometimes setting a clock ignites a sense of urgency if they don’t internally have one. The one drawback? It needs to be clear that the game is not an excuse to simply finish quickly with sloppy work; the homework is not done when the clock is up, the homework is done when it is done well.
- All Excuses? “The teacher didn’t assign any homework tonight.” “I already did it.” “The teacher never looks at it anyways.” If you have ever heard one of these you are probably tired of trying to combat all the excuses. The simple answer is if your child is still getting good grades then they have earned the right to do their homework when they want BUT if their grades indicate missed assignments or they are falling behind then intervention is needed. Avoid the lecture and just simply investigate the behavior and not dissect their motivations. It isn’t abnormal for a kid to not inherently want to do their homework, their motivation is to do what they want to do, so focus on creating new behaviors using the above tips.
TAKE AWAYS: The overwhelming response by everyone was to keep things consistent BUT be willing to be flexible to suit your child’s needs and behaviors.
We are navigating the new school year with our own kids and can relate to the highs and the lows that go with it. We are real estate professionals but also mom’s and dad’s, husband’s and wive’s. Please don’t hesitate to reach out, we are here for you and your specific needs. Have a great school year!!