Your child has piles of homework to complete, and you sit down to help her. You give her some tips and suggestions, but shortly thereafter, your good intentions turn into friction and frustration. She’s struggling and you’re trying to ease her struggle, but she’s convinced she can do the work on her own. Help ease this homework battle and build your child’s confidence with the ideas detailed below.
Create an organized homework space
Without a clean, organized space for completing work, homework time can become utterly chaotic. Papers might be tossed into various drawers and supplies may be spread across multiple rooms, leading to stress and parental struggles. To combat this potential source of tension, help your child identify a space where he can complete his homework on a daily basis. This designated homework area may be a desk in his bedroom or a space in a communal area, like the kitchen or dining room. Help him identify all the supplies he may need, including pens, pencils, paper, binder clips, scissors, and the like, and keep these tools fully stocked at all times. If he chooses a desk in his room, help him arrange the supplies neatly into different drawers. If he chooses a communal space, help him create a “homework supplies bucket” that he transports from his bedroom to his workspace and back. The key is maintaining a consistent space that is always fully stocked with necessary supplies.
Designate a homework time
Deciding what time to begin homework can be a battle in and of itself. If your child constantly procrastinates, you might find that you’re regularly reminding her to get started on her work, and she may feel that you’re “nagging” her. Avoid this struggle by helping her identify a regular homework time. Some students prefer to complete their homework right when they come home from school to “get it over with,” while others prefer a snack or even some exercise after a long day at school, before starting their work. Yet others like to work in the evening, after dinner. Different kids have different preferences, and any of those options can work. The key again is consistency to help prevent these ongoing homework battles.
Many kids these days are loaded with activities. They have soccer practice on Mondays, tennis on Tuesdays, piano on Wednesdays, choir on Thursdays—the list goes on! Weekends are often filled with games and competitions, and there’s very little time to breathe, let alone complete the piles of homework that continue to rise. If you notice that your child consistently feels anxious, tired, and overwhelmed, especially when trying to complete her homework, it may be time to re-evaluate the number of activities she is involved in. Sometimes too many non-school commitments can backfire, and can create tension when the workload builds.
Guide your child
When your child is loaded with assignments, it can be tempting to want to complete them for him, just to get them over with. Yet doing so defeats the whole purpose of homework, and can make your child feel helpless and incapable of independently completing his work. Instead, serve as a guide. Help your child come up with a plan for tackling his work, then stay nearby in case he has questions or gets stuck. He might ask you to review his completed work or may ask your opinion on potential revisions. Being his guide—but not completing the work for him—will help him become more confident and independent, and will help ease any potential homework tensions.
If the struggle continues…
If your child continues to struggle with her homework despite these efforts, you can speak to her teacher. Find out how long the homework should take to complete each night, and if she is vastly exceeding that time, let her teacher know. She may be able to modify the workload or work with your child to find more appropriate assignments. You may also consider having her evaluated to see if she may have a deeper learning challenge. If so, there are many services and strategies that can help her tremendously as she moves through school.
Most children are capable of completing homework on their own, if given the right tools. Help arm your child with these valuable tools and believe in him. In doing so, he will likely become a confident, independent, and successful student.
Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a local tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home and on-site instruction for students in grades pre-K-12. She is also the author of the workbook series Strategies for Study Success and Flags and Stars. To learn more about Emily Levy and EBL Coaching, visit eblcoaching.com!