Photo Credit: Alexandra Blair Photography
Homework isn’t most kids’ favorite part of the day—and it can be painful for parents, too. Rather than turn homework time into a power struggle, simple strategies can help you both work together to get it done without unnecessary stress. Here are six smart tips from educational psychologist Michele Borba, author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Other Shine.
Make homework be required…not a choice. From the beginning of the school year maintain a firm, serious attitude about homework. Your kid needs to know that homework is not an option. Enforce the “work before play” rule.
Know the teacher’s expectations. Be clear as to each teacher’s homework policy so you are all on the same page from the get-go. Find out how long the work should take on the average per night. That answer will help you determine if your child has too much work, is a procrastinator, has a learning disability or lacks study skills. Then talk with your child so he knows you are not only aware of the teachers’ expectations but also support them.
Develop a weekly homework reminder. Teach your child to create a simple reminder of daily or weekly assignments as well as a long-term projects and reports. A white board or chalkboard is preferable because it is reusable. Just be sure to hang it in a central place. List the days of the week, and then help the child jot down regular daily or weekly assignments. For instance: Monday: Sharing; Wednesday: Library; Friday: Spelling Test. Use photographs or icons for nonreaders (for example a picture of a book for library day). The ultimate goal is for your child to track of his own daily assignments without your reminders, but you know that will take some time.
Create a special homework spot. Involve your child in the selection and stock it with necessary school supplies. The general rule is the younger the child, the closer that spot will be near you. Put the computer in a place where you can carefully view what your child is doing online.
Set a routine. Select a time that works best for your kid to do his—after school, before dinner, after dinner—then stick to it. Ask your child for his input and do try to accommodate his schedule. A set and predictable schedule helps defray the battles and gets your kid on a routine. You may want to even post your agreement in a visible place and then sign it. Many kids need a break after school, while others like to delve right in. Find your child’s best time work time and consistently reinforce it. Drawing a clock face that shows the set homework time is helpful for younger children.
Be a guider not doer. Insist homework be your child’s responsibility not yours. Resist the temptation of always sitting next to her and offer your help only when it’s really needed. If your child is having difficulties, help her understand the work by making up similar problems and showing her step by step how to do it. Then watch her try to do one on her own. That way you won’t be doing all the work for her.