Weekdays can be tough on parents and kids alike.
Often, both parents have been away at work all day. Kids may be tired and a bit cranky after sitting in a classroom for hours. And if a parent stays at home, they are likely worn out from caring for younger children.
Add the tasks of supper time, chores, extracurricular activities, and bedtime wrangling to the end-of-the-day exhaustion, and it’s no surprise that homework may cause stress for everyone in the household.
But with planning, there are ways to approach homework more effectively.
A good place to start when evaluating homework issues is when and where the homework occurs.
Do you have a set time and place for it? Have you observed your child so you know when it’s a good time to do the homework? They may be too wiped out immediately after coming home. But if you push it too close to bedtime, that can cause stress.
Thus, establishing a predictable routine and location is a vital step.
2. Physical Needs
Kids are often hungry when they come home. Plus, they may be tired or they may be wound up from sitting still all day. There’s a need to replenish fuel and/or let off steam.
Providing a healthy snack and a chance to either rest or burn off some energy before doing homework is a simple step to try.
3. Learning Style
Even though you live with them and have known them since their earliest days, you may not understand your child’s unique learning style.
Not all kids learn the exact same way. Some are visual learners, others are kinesthetic learners, and some are auditory learners. When you understand this, you can adapt homework approaches as needed.
4. Your Presence
If homework is creating chaos and stress, consider sitting down at the table with them while they’re doing it.
If they need some guidance, work with them. Talk with them to see if they understand the topics. They may do great in language arts but struggle with math. As you work with them, you’ll gain insight.
Even if they don’t need your help, the sense that you are being present with them can be calming and centering. Rather than using the time that they’re doing homework to rush around doing chores, take the chance to sit down and relax. You can set an example by reading a book, doing paperwork, or looking up recipes next to them. Feeling like you’re in it together can help reduce their stress.
Many parents do not allow their kids to have screen time or watch shows until homework is completed. Doing so can provide extra motivation and incentive to get their work done. You could also consider a point system and let them earn rewards in exchange.
Another huge incentive for children is positive attention and praise from their parents! Notice what they are doing right and tell them. Be sure to offer this to them both while they do their homework and when they are finished. Positive attention often goes so much further than lectures or criticism.
6. Communication with the Teacher
Educators and researchers are beginning to understand that there really is such a thing as too much homework. Some recommend a max of 10 minutes per grade level a day. Unfortunately, many kids often have much more than that.
Do your research. And if you think the homework is truly too much, don’t hesitate to talk with the teacher, the principal, a resource teacher, or even the school board if needed.
7. Professional Help
If the nightly stress of homework continues despite your good efforts, consider reaching out for professional help.
Perhaps your child has an undiagnosed learning disability. Or maybe they’re struggling with emotional issues that come out in part through behavior around homework. You may need to find a more effective way to interact with them but don’t realize it.
If this is the case, our therapists are here for you. We’re highly trained and specialize in working with children and families. Please reach out for more information.