Homework can be a challenging time for many families. Oftentimes, it can be one of the biggest routine struggles of the week, regularly resulting in yelling and tears. Out of ideas? Some small tweaks in your homework game may help reduce some of the friction surrounding this time of day for you and your family. Here’s some ideas:
Give your kids a screen-free break after getting home from school.
Allow them to have a snack and chill out for about 30 minutes, but no screen time. My experience is that having this 30 minute break time be tech-free allows kids to reset and refocus themselves, and it eliminates potential battles of transitioning from screen time to homework time. Let them have a snack, and then if it’s nice outside, encourage playtime with your family pet, swinging on a swing, or kicking around a soccer ball. There’s no better reset than time spent outside being physically active and having some fun.
Designate a time of day for homework.
This sets school performance and completion of homework as a priority in your home. Make sure it’s plenty of time before bedtime so that bedtime doesn’t get hectic or even pushed back later.
Designate a Homework Zone.
By designating a space that is set aside for homework, you can eliminate a lot of distractions and barriers to the process. Consider the space to be a table (sitting at a table helps with focus) away from distracting televisions/electronics. Stock the Homework Zone with supplies your child may need for homework activities. You may also want to consider a location in your home where you’re easily able to multi-task while your kiddo is doing their homework. This allows you to be present when needed but also allows you to get other things done when you’re not needed as much. It can also let you step away so you’re not hovering, which could impact the homework process negatively.
Routine makes a difference. I understand that the family schedule probably changes day-by-day, as it does for most families who have children involved in after-school activities, but try to stay on schedule as much as possible.
Know what your kiddo is up to academically.
Have an open line of communication with his/her teachers. Many teachers are open to emailing parents who are interested in keeping up with what’s happening in the classroom. During the school-year, your child’s teacher likely spends more time with them than you do, so engage with them about your child’s progress, areas of growth, and their social/emotional development. You can also participate in parent portals if your child’s school offers this.
Use homework time as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your child.
Be a teammate. Stay encouraging and helpful. No child struggles academically on purpose. When you present yourself as an ally to your child, it allows them to feel more equipped to learn the skills associated with learning and studying. If they seem to be struggling with a certain skill, be curious with them about it and see if they have any ideas of possible solutions to the challenge they’re facing and offer possible solutions when appropriate.
Help your child learn study skills.
Allow them the opportunity to become problem solvers, learn to plan, set goals, and prioritize activities. After all these are skills that first need to be learned and then need to be practiced. Don’t swoop in and do it for them, or your children never have the chance learn to be independent thinkers or master the skills necessary to thrive academically in the future.
Know when to take a break.
If your emotions are high during homework time, consider how big your child’s emotions must be! Sometimes a ten minute break is helpful. Walk away from the Homework Zone. Do something physical. Have a drink of water. Go outside for a few moments. Everyone needs a break from challenges at times, and children sometimes don’t recognize when this kind of break is needed.
Recognize when to get additional help.
Still having struggles at Homework Time? You may want to consider scheduling some one-on-one time for your child with their teacher, finding a study group, or seeking out professional tutoring services. Increase your support network for you and your child by expanding it to include others who specialize in this work. Their expertise may just be what your family needs.
Homework time doesn’t have to be a daily crisis in your home. Implementing some small changes may help ease some of the tension in your home during this time of day. Good luck, Team!