School brings so much fun and excitement. It also brings juggling schedules and homework. With homework usually comes battles. Lots of homework battles. One of the most common struggles we tend to face, is getting our kids to do their homework, minus the moans and groans and tears.
Given that homework is necessary and an unavoidable part of school life, here are a few tips to lessen the stress and give you some homework help.
First, evaluate your child’s schedule and how much sleep they are getting. Homework meltdowns often happen because our children are over scheduled and tired. With so much on their plate, they don’t have time to be children. They don’t have time to play, to imagine and to pretend. All necessary for a healthy childhood. Not enough sleep will also elicit a quick break down. Kids need sleep. Their bodies are growing and changing and we need to make sure we help them get the rest they need.
Establish a routine.
Work to tackle homework at about the same time everyday. Remember, routines bring predictability, and predictability brings safety and security. It will help our children when they know what to expect and what is going to happen. This can be different for each child. For example, our son needs time to wind down after school. When he comes home he needs to eat, decompress and tell me about his day. Forcing him to sit down and start on his homework right away creates major homework battles. He can’t focus, drags his feet and is easily frustrated. Our daughter is the exact opposite. She wants to walk in the door and immediately take care of all of her homework. If she is forced to wait, she feels anxiety and frustration. Knowing how they both think and what schedules work best for them is half the battle. This routine should also include clear expectations. No electronics, no television etc… Make that clear long before the routine is challenged.
Simply being in same room as your child while they are work can help cut homework battles and the time it takes to get things done, in half. You don’t have to be talking to your children, or doing their work for them, but sending them off to their room to work by themselves usually means hours of battling your child to stay focused. Kids don’t want to be left alone. Homework is lonely enough. Do something while they are working. Even better, do something that helps your child see that what they are learning and doing is relevant in the real world. Balance a checkbook, pay bills, read, plan your meal schedule or grocery list for the week. What ever you do, try to stay close and be available.
Wrangle the younger kids.
It can seem like torture for a child to be sitting and doing homework while their younger siblings are laughing, watching TV, and playing around them. Why not make it a quiet time for everyone in the house and have younger kids color and look at books. Younger siblings usual long to be like their older counterparts as it is. Make them feel special by including them. Not only will it make it easier for the child doing the homework, but it will start good homework habits for your younger children.
This doesn’t mean we hover over our children or give them all the answers. But we need to make it clear that there are no dumb questions and that we are available if they need help. When they do come to us for help, we need to be patient. Never make your child feel dumb or silly, or that they should know the answer. This will deter them from asking for help in the future. Not just about homework, but about other topics of discussion too. When we help, refrain from giving them the answer, but instead ask questions that lead them to discover the answer on his own.
Don’t overreact to the Drama.
There is going to be homework drama. There will most likely be meltdowns and even tears now and again. First and foremost, we have to stay patient. We have to keep our cool. Don’t yell or threaten. Refrain from telling your child “you don’t get to watch TV unless you get this done.” Watch how hard you push. Instead reference the possible outcomes. Such as the fact that not doing homework will bring bad grades, which has repercussions. Or ask how they will explain to their teacher that they didn’t do their work. Once you work to calm them down, offer to help.
Helping our children establish good and positive homework patterns when they are young will bring lifelong benefits. With a few modifications and changes we can make it a better experience for the whole family.
How do you deal with homework battles?