From elementary through high school, many parents get stressed over homework as much as their kids do. You want your kids to do well and get homework done without either of you having to deal with the headaches that come along with it. Homework doesn’t have to be a hassle, though, when you use a few strategies to make it painless for everyone.
Set a Homework Schedule
Your child’s workday at school is structured, so homework time should have some structure too. Most kids need a break when they first get home from school. Make sure your child gets a snack then and has a little time to unwind. HuffPost recommends chatting with your child during snack time. This gives you a sense for how your child is doing as well as what’s going on at school, which helps you troubleshoot any homework issues.
In general, once snack time is over, getting homework done earlier is better. Kids who are old enough to take on a little more responsibility may like having a timeframe for starting on homework. Having some flexibility in their homework schedule helps kids feel more empowered rather than feeling like they’re unwilling participants.
Set Your Child Up for Success
Along with having a homework schedule, set your child up for success by creating a designated homework space. This spot can vary depending on your child’s personality and learning style. For example, some children enjoy having a desk in their room, while others would be distracted by things in their room and would do better at the kitchen table. Wherever this spot is, set it up with all of their school supplies so everything they need is right at hand.
Adapt as Needed
Setting structure and routine is essential for homework to become a regular part of home life so kids know it’s expected. Within that structure, though, you will have more success and a happier kid if you’re aware of their needs and recognize when it’s best to shake things up. Scholastic recommends some strategies for dealing with specific situations. For example, if you have a child whose mind tends to wander, they may benefit from a change of scenery. Meanwhile, a child who procrastinates may respond well to a challenge to beat the clock against a timer.
Help for the Helper
You can make homework time easier by knowing what subject your child is working on and having some strategies to help as they need it. This goes for all grade levels, but younger children naturally need more assistance from you than older kids do. For example, emerging readers need to practice reading with you, and you can help them figure out words they don’t know by brushing up on some word-solving tips. Your older child will benefit more from having some space but knowing they can turn to you for help when they need it. Your job is never to do it for them but to help point them in the right direction. One strategy may be to consult a website as a resource, especially if you aren’t familiar with a method the teacher uses.
Build the Right Motivation
Keeping kids motivated to stick with homework can be tough, even when you do all the right things. Parents Magazine recommends being mindful of how you approach rewards for homework. Rather than using financial rewards, kids will be more likely to stay motivated if you focus on praising them for hard work and help them appreciate a sense of accomplishment. Kids also respond well to having something fun to look forward to. When the weather is nice, plan on doing some fun outdoor activities together after they finish homework. You can even pick up a new hobby together, such as birdwatching in your backyard.
It’s normal for kids and parents alike to get frustrated with homework. This frustration isn’t inevitable, though. Developing these strategies to help takes a little more effort from you upfront, but the time and tears saved will be worth it in the end!