For many parents the new school year also means the return of a familiar question, followed by what I will call “The Homework Power Struggle”. It starts off something like this…”Did you do your Homework?”….”I don’t have any homework!” AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! You know they have homework or at least something to study besides the text messages coming in every 5 seconds.
Getting your child to do homework is probably as frustrating as it was for me, when I was a teacher, to get them to actually write it down. In your child’s defense he/she may simply be overwhelmed by a lot of homework or they just don’t understand it. This may be why they put off trying to do it as long as possible, if they do it at all.
So, what’s a parent to do? I can tell you right now that punishment is not the answer. It only creates further frustration for you, when you get zero results, and it most likely will send your child into shut down mode.
While I can not promise you a magical fix or a super app that will jump out of your child’s phone and make them do their homework, I can at least give you a few tips to help you keep the rest of your hair in your head.
First, think about how you felt as a kid when you had a lot of homework. I remember staying up late at night with my father ready to burst into tears because he was teaching me a “faster” way to do long division that looked nothing like what the teacher taught us in class. I didn’t understand either one of them, but I was afraid to speak up.
Like most kids today, you probably didn’t understand the long-term implications of doing your homework vs not doing your homework. With so many distractions today (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) most kids find homework to be is a major waste of time. Not helping the situation are those teachers (Not all!) who assign loads of homework and then either never collect it or never give it back. So, if you add that stress and frustration with you yelling at your kid about his/her homework everyday, it will definitely not get you very far. As the saying goes, “If you want a different result…try a different approach.”
Hopefully you can motivate your children with the following tips:
- If you are trying to get your kids to do their homework right after school or right before dinner, maybe it’s time to reconsider. Ask your child to come up with a time when he (or she) feels most energized and focused. Once you’ve come up with a good time for homework, schedule it in. Work it into your child’s daily schedule so that he/she can see where it fits in, and arrange things accordingly.
- Let your child know that you will sit down with them upon completion of their homework or at least twice a week so that they can explain to you what the homework is/was about. This will help you gauge how much they understand and what areas they need more help in.
- If your child is having trouble, encourage them to ask for help at school and/or to use online resources such as YouTube. Many parents are totally unaware of the number of teachers that actually post videos of their lessons on Youtube. You will find just about any subject there. Here is an example of what comes up on YouTube when you search for help with Quadratic Equations or how to conjugate Spanish AR verbs.
- Encourage your child to try and start his/her homework in class, if the teacher gives them time to do so. I was always excited to see kids working on their homework when there was extra time at the end of class or during lunch. I know that the pressures of chatting and hanging with friends makes this difficult, but who suffers in the end?
- Does your child need to be alone and in a quiet area to concentrate? Try setting up a homework station area where they can work quietly. Maybe your child prefers music and activity around in order to focus. In that case, set up a place where he/she can be “part of the action” as long as this does not cause a distraction. The place where your child does his or her homework should be set up to be a comfortable spot. This can make going to do their homework something to look forward to. Ok maybe they won’t look forward to it, but it at least it won’t feel like torture.
- Set aside a space where your child has some snacks, drinks, music (if it doesn’t distract them), a favorite chair (maybe buy a special chair, like a beanbag chair, for the purpose), and even plants or a place for a favorite pet to join them. If you are short on space, these items can be taken out and set up each day and put away when homework is finished. The point is to make the homework spot a place where your child wants to be.
I do hope this was helpful to you. As always, I wish you a good stress free school year!
The Busy Mom’s Best-friend.