As we settle into our back-to-school routine, the habits that have fallen by the wayside during the summer are back in full force for the month of October. Chauffeuring kids to after school activities, making dinner every night, and packing the dreaded lunch are all part of the daily grind. Another issue that is giving both parents and kids headaches is homework. As a former student, parent, and educator, I know what a drag the nightly grind of homework can be for families. Here are some tips to make the homework battle a little less painful from a teacher’s perspective:
Depending on the age of your child and his or her personality, this struggle can play out until June, or worse, until they graduate. Here are some tips to help alleviate the daily stress of homework:
1. Establish a routine
Whether doing it after school or after dinner, it’s important to have a routine time each day where your kids do their homework. Usually positioning a study session after a meal or a snack works well because who can focus when they are hungry?
2. Have space for homework
My spot for doing homework was always the kitchen table. And to this day, this is still where I get most of my work done. A good spot is somewhere that is free of clutter with lots of space to spread out with access to technology. Some kids prefer to do their homework in the privacy of their bedroom, which might be a good option if other places of your home are filled with distractions. But it is important to keep an eye on children if they are using technology in their rooms because you never know what or who may be sidetracking them.
3. Focus on time instead of completion
Especially if you have a small child, instead of saying, “You can’t have a break until this whole worksheet is complete,” instead try, “If you work for 20 minutes, you can go play basketball until dinner.” An entire assignment may be overwhelming for a young student, but they will be less intimidated by an amount of time because it’s finite.
4. Don’t offer help if it leads to a fight
If you and your child always end up fighting over homework, ask for help. Maybe this can be something that your partner can help with while you prep dinner or enlist the help of an older sibling or babysitter. Kids are more receptive to almost anyone who isn’t their parent. If your child is really struggling with a certain subject, consider hiring a tutor. Your child’s teacher or counselor will be more than happy to give you some recommendations. Also, some schools offer free tutoring from the National Honors Society students who are trying to earn their community service hours.
5. Talk to the teacher
If the homework hassle is ruining your family’s time together, reach out to your child’s teacher. Maybe there is an underlying issue why your child is bringing so much work home? It’s possible that they aren’t using the class time effectively and could use a seat change, or maybe they are not grasping the concepts taught in class, which is making it impossible to do the work independently at home. If you speak to your child’s teacher from a place of concern (be careful not to sound like you are attacking the teacher), you will be surprised from the response you will get. You are both on the same team who want nothing but success for your child.
Homework: Headache or Helping Students Learn?
Here is a secret: despite what you may think, teachers don’t love homework. We don’t enjoy spending hours correcting it or penalizing students who choose not to complete the assignments. As a teacher, the district I work in has really moved away from assigning homework. It wasn’t a district-wide initiative, but many of us have realized that the students just weren’t doing it, and it was bringing down their grades. If homework is calculated into the student’s final grade, it has a small impact and a greater emphasis is placed upon projects, presentations, and exams.
Homework, a lot of times, isn’t graded but intended for students to practice the skills they have learned in subjects, such as math and foreign languages. Conjugating verbs and multiplication drills are only truly learned when they are practiced and memorized, so homework in these subjects is almost a given.
Ultimately along with mastery of a subject, the objective of homework is for the student to establish time management and encourage students to learn independently. These tips will not solve your homework struggle in a day or even a week, but hopefully, over time, they will alleviate daily arguments. Remember, you are not alone; every day there are countless other parents fighting the homework battle, too.