“The year has barely started and we’re already fighting about homework. Discussing it calmly doesn’t work. Threats and consequences only work temporarily. What should we do to make this year better – and more peaceful – than last year?”
Frustrating homework issues are common right now. Do any of these sound too familiar?
- Nightly discussions over when homework is to be done.
- Homework is rushed and when you suggest redoing, they balk.
- Arguments that arise before or during homework interfere with your relationship with your child.
- Homework, books, and other needed materials are “forgotten” and left at school.
- Peers spend much less time on homework.
- My children insist that they can (and in fact some do) work better with a TV on or music playing.
- The first time I hear about a major project is the night before it is due.
Parents are wise to deal with this now before the school year gets any further under way and bad habits become ingrained. Fortunately, there are things you can do.
First, homework should be at a special consistent time and place set aside to focus on just homework. No telephone, TV or other screened technology, music, or anything else that may subtly or not-so-subtly tip the attention scale away from homework. Special Tip: Physically put yourself in your child’s homework position. You may discover a pet, view to the great outdoors, or some other inadvertent scale tipper! There is room for negotiation though. For example, some studies show that for some children some types of music actually helps bring their attention back when it wanders.
Second, whether or not they have a project due tomorrow or “no homework,” they still must work during this special time. This is the time for rereading assignments, looking over notes, and completing the next small step of a long-term assignment. If there’s not enough to do to fill the time, negotiate a book or magazine they can read.
Third, talk with your children and their teachers to find out why doing homework is so difficult. Special Tip: Check you questioning tone is more curious than frustrated.
If after talking to your child’s teacher, and doing everything you know to do, homework is still a problem, the next step is to call for reinforcements. If the teacher cannot give you clear and understandable answers (he or she may simply be as stumped as you at the real cause), call us to get some basic testing that will lead to specific causes that will lead to specific solutions.
Here are just a few post-testing discoveries parents have made about the real causes to homework frustration:
- “My oldest child was bored, my middle one has memory and language problems, and my youngest needs to fill in holes in math skills.”
- “My child is bright and able to cover up a learning disability, or as we now call it, a learning difference.”
- “There were simply gaps in learning that needed to be filled.”
- “My child needed someone besides me helping with homework and teaching study skills.”
- “Some types of attention were strong but others were weak causing the real problem.”
- “It turned out anxiety was interfering more than lack of skill or knowledge.”
Fourth, if the tug of wills during homework time involves “normal stress” then remind yourself about this aspect of parenting what you tell your children about homework: “It’s just something you have to get through.” If though it is truly negatively affecting your parent-child (or parent-parent!) relationship, it’s time to get you out of the mix. Take advantage of TLC’s homework support, not because you can’t do it yourself, but because you shouldn’t! It’s not worth sacrificing your relationship when we are right here to help.
You are wise to make certain this year is better than last. Don’t let this problem go on one more day! Bad homework habits will be harder to break once set. And, if this isn’t a new issue for you and your family, all the more reason to do something now to prepare today for success tomorrow.