Parent Tips for Stress-Free Homework Help
Photo Credit: Pixabay
By Emily Graham
Helping your children with their homework presents two major challenges. First, kids will be kids, and many would rather play or do pretty much anything else other than their homework. The next problem is the complexity of “new math” and other modes of learning that differ from the way parents learned. As difficult as these two hurdles may be, it is possible to get kids to do their homework — painlessly. Here’s how.
Establish a Homework Plan
Don’t try to attack a homework problem without fully assessing the situation and creating a plan so a better system can be put in place. Part of the plan can be formed when you meet with or communicate with your children’s teachers at the beginning of the year. Get an idea about the expected homework volume and address any activity schedule concerns with teachers in advance. If your daughter is heavily involved in gymnastics and has practice four nights a week, you’ll need to make time for homework or reassess the activity. Modern parents frequently complain about their hectic schedules, but they often also find that with an initial plan, the busy schedule can benefit a child’s development by keeping them stimulated and active.
While your homework plan should focus on ensuring that assignments are completed, it is also important to provide breaks. When your kids walk in the door, they are adjusting from a day of education and the social flurry of school. Give them a chance to decompress. Also, watch them carefully for burnout. If they break down and cry over homework, give them a break and discuss alternatives with their teachers.
Make a Homework Zone in Your Home
Where do your kids do their homework? They should have a quiet, well-lit space with comfortable seating and ample room for their books, papers, and materials. A student desk works, but so does the kitchen table. Whatever space your children use, have them do so with regularity. Make sure your homework space is well-stocked. Have a dedicated area where you keep paper, pencils, pens, rulers, and calculators. When their tools are readily available, children are less likely to be frustrated while trying to complete their homework.
Nothing can derail solid homework habits more than a smartphone. Your child might be engaged in their work, powering through problems, and then they get a text or someone sends them a Snapchat. When you tell them to ignore the phone, they may get defensive or angry, and these feelings can derail a positive homework experience. Establish clear rules. Enforce electronics-free homework zones and tell them to put their phones in airplane mode.
Whether your kids need your help, consider applying the no-cell-phone rule to yourself as well. Consider your child’s perspective; if you are mindlessly staring at your phone while also yelling at them to do their homework, the message is obviously not strong. It makes sense, too, that cell phones are not permitted in many schools. Follow an educator’s model.
Take a Cue from the Professionals
Encouraging learning and study habits is difficult for teachers, too. While you may struggle with getting them to spend 30 minutes on some homework handouts, your children’s teachers deal with their lack of learning motivation all day long. Teachers overcome this struggle by incentivizing such things as good behavior, cooperation, and quiz performance. Some rewards include prize box drawings for turning in assignments on time. There are also many reasonable reward options that are mostly classroom based but can work in the home too. Try assigning points for each completed homework assignment, and after a certain number is reached, treat your child to some fun family activities. Maybe it’s a backyard campout, a visit to the zoo or even going on a treasure hunt. You can also include outdoor time in your homework plans as well.
Homework can be stressful for both children and parents. Lighten both of your loads through planning, organization, and following tips from teachers. You may find your kids improving their behavior and their grades while learning important lessons about time management.