Is homework more like hellwork in your home? Does even the H-word result in screaming, fighting and tears? If you are nodding you head, these teacher tried and true homework tips are for you!
Homework Tips: The Basics
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Children do well with routines. Knowing what to expect and when to expect it is helpful, especially for tasks about which they are not exactly thrilled. Be sure to keep this time consistent as much as possible.
Use your judgement on choosing the best time of day for homework. Does your child do best focusing right after school? Perhaps they need a little down time to relax before feeling up to more concentration. Alternatively, some homework tasks like reading might be more suitable for closer to bedtime. Every child is unique and you will need to determine the right time for your child (and if you have more than one child, the right time for one may not be right for the other).
Whatever time you choose, make sure that your child isn’t hungry or thirsty. Have a snack between getting off the school bus and opening the books is very helpful. Likewise, homework during the dinner rush might not be as productive as after dinner.
Keep it Calm
This is probably a no-brainer, but homework time should be calm and quiet. TV or any other distraction such as a tablet or video game should not be part of the homework equation. If possible, a separate room or area away from other children who are playing, is best.
If you are already having trouble getting homework accomplished, no good will come of trying to get all the assignments done in one session. We as adults may think it would be better to get it all over with at once, but this can be very overwhelming to children. Instead, pick a manageable goal, and then take a break. You can use a visual timer like this one so your child can see their progress.
If your school is like mine, teachers may give out all homework assignments on Monday and collect them on Friday. This gives families flexibility, if needed. Do not try to accomplish all homework in one sitting. A little bit every night will be much more doable for your little one.
Provide Sensory Breaks
Related to chunking, provide a sensory break in between homework tasks. Pick an activity your child enjoys and use it as an incentive to accomplish a task. Lay out the rules in advance: Do three math problems, then have five minutes of lego time, or read for ten minutes, then mom reads to you for five. Watching TV or playing video games/tablets are not the best sensory breaks.
Start out with small goals, then as your child improves, you can add more homework between breaks. As your child has success and is rewarded, they will be more willing to get down to work.
If your child is struggling with their homework, reflect on what you are doing during homework time. Young children should not be expected to complete their homework without adult guidance. Most work in the primary grades (K-2) is designed to be completed by parents and children together. Even older children may have the focus and motivation to complete homework alone while you are doing chores or cooking supper. Stay close at hand and offer a lot of praise for task completed (any task, no matter how small!).
Keep It Fun
Depending on the type of homework (there’s not many ways to spice up worksheets), you can take the opportunity to make homework as fun as possible. Here are some quick ideas:
- Math facts: post the answers on post-it notes on the wall. Call out a question and have your child shoot the right answer (e.g. you say 2+2, Your child shoots at the post-it that says 4)
- Spelling: spread some whipped cream on a baking pan. Have your child spell each word in the whipped cream. If they spell a word correctly, they can lick their finger.
- Reading: if your child can read books of their choosing, try to pick out some fun and interesting books.
Homework Tips: Extra Help
Bring in Some Allies
Sometimes, YOU might actually be the problem (I say this lovingly). Not saying there’s anything wrong with you, but let’s face it: kids fighting with their moms could be an Olympic sport. Switch up who does the homework with your child. A father figure’s more no-nonsense approach may be what your child needs to stay on track. A grandmother’s sweet ways, or even an older child (sibling, cousin or paid high school student as a tutor) might be the fresh face that will encourage your child to be more cooperative. Additionally, you probably need (and deserve) a break from the nightly homework show-down!
Contact the Teacher
If you have implemented the homework tips above, don’t be afraid to contact the teacher and ask for some help. Your child’s teacher has a unique insight into your child’s learning style and preferences and may be able to provide some personalized suggestions.
Additionally, you might discuss the following if you feel that your child is not just being unruly, but truly struggling with their load. Remember to approach the teacher with a request for assistance (Do you have any advice on how I can make homework time more effective for Johnny?), not an accusation (You give Suzy too much homework). Here are some possibilities you might discuss:
Extra Time to Complete Work
Deadlines might be extended to give more time to complete the homework Make sure you are using this time to accomplish small, manageable tasks, not simply delaying the homework for even longer!
Lessening the Load
Alternatively, homework might be scaled back (i.e. completing every other math problems, rather than the whole set, or reading for 15 minutes, then stopping, rather than finishing the book or chapter).
You may also want to discuss the difficulty level of the homework with your child’s teacher. Tread carefully with this and take the teacher’s advice. Often times, children want to get the better of us and claim something is too hard, when really, they just don’t want to do it. For instance, if a child drags their feet when completing assignments, but aces every test at school, that’s a good indication that homework is not, in fact, too difficult.
Of course, sometimes, a child struggles with homework because it is above their level. You may be able to request homework at your child’s level, or perhaps the teacher will offer to spend a little extra time to ensure your child knows what to do on homework assignments. The teacher may also be able to suggest you hire a tutor, or be able to recommend your child receive extra help at school (if this is available in your school).
These are my top homework tips that are sure to end that nightly showdown.
Do you have and of your own homework tips and tricks to end the homework battle? Share them below. I’d love to hear from you!