If you struggle with stressful homework time, it can be a daily nightmare.
Here are eight tips for calming the homework monster!
Start by changing your approach
Admit that you can’t make your child do anything. His or her performance isn’t a reflection of you or your parenting.
Change your perspective on who is responsible for the child’s academic performance, and instead, see your role as providing a supportive environment where your child can make the best choices. This can de-escalate the struggle and stress you’re feeling, as you accept that you’re doing your part, the child must do theirs.
Set a daily structure with defined homework times
Kids work better with a routine. When they know that this is “homework time”, and that it will end at a certain time (or earlier if they finish quickly) they are much more likely to calmly do what is expected.
Be willing to sit and engage so your child doesn’t feel alone
Recognise that homework is something that you need to be engaged in. Express an approach such as “It’s time for us to work on your homework”.
Read through their homework, make sure they understand what they have to do, see the scope of what has to be done and help them determine what is achievable in the time they have. Many students do not attempt their homework or projects because it looks overwhelming at first.
This positive and supportive engagement can make a significant difference to how your child feels about sitting down and doing the work.
Schedule necessary breaks, particularly if your child is kinetic
Kids will need regular breaks. And some kids need active movement to stay focused.
Recognise when your child needs a short break, and if it’s helpful, set them a movement task like running up and down the stairs or round the yard a few times. If your child is more social, play with them for a few minutes, talk and engage. Give their brains and bodies a needed boost of what they enjoy, at intervals during homework time.
Listen and sympathise with your child’s emotional struggle
Don’t assume their resistance is laziness or naughty behaviour. We all feel horrible when we have to do something we dislike. Let your child know you understand that this experience is hard for them and help your child by scheduling the kinds of breaks mentioned in point 4, above.
Also, know what kinds of rewards motivate your child. Offer these in reward for time spent doing homework in a focused way.
Make mutual agreements to achieve goals
Making a deal, such as “If you finish your homework in the next hour and I finish the laundry and dinner prep, then we can play soccer outside for half an hour” can help make a game out of homework.
Such agreements mean you’ll both have a challenge and you can encourage each other to stick at it and work hard. And you’ll be teaching your child how to move through unpleasant tasks and you’ll both enjoy a reward at the end.
Ask your child what would help them
This is a great way to change the conversation away from the “You have to do your homework / I don’t want to” dynamic. What does your child think they need to make doing homework easier? This is specially helpful with older kids and teens. You may find the solution is easier than you realised.
And this can also give your child opportunity to talk about other things they’re struggling with, which may be impacting their ability to concentrate on school work, including things such as bullying or social problems, physical issues like sore or blurry eyes or reading difficulties.
Recognise when homework is hard because they’re struggling to understand the subject
If homework is a struggle because your child isn’t grasping the concepts of the subjects they’re studying, engaging a tutoring service can make a world of difference. The right tutoring can help improve grades, change your child’s attitude to learning and school work, and help your child grow in confidence both academically and socially.