10 Strategies for Getting Homework Done Without Tears

Child doing homework. Sad girl writing, reeding

Although some recent studies suggest that parent involvement in children’s homework may be counterproductive, it’s likely that many parents will continue to be involved. My belief is that some parent involvement is helpful as long as it stays positive and productive — the homework gets done without tears and without conflict.

With the start of the new school year here, perhaps a new approach to homework in your home would be helpful. Does your child often tell you there is no homework or that he did it at school? For children who report this and still earn good grades, they have the right to complete their homework in whatever fashion they like. But for those tweens and teens who minimize their homework and put less effort into it than is necessary and their grades reflect this, the situation is different. Parents and students know that carefully completed homework can often mean the difference between a passing and a failing grade. What can be done to improve a faltering homework situation?

Here are 10 strategies for guiding children and teens through homework without drama and with success.

1. Put connection first. After school, make sure that your child has time to share the events of his school day with a caring adult before diving into his homework. Connect to him by asking him who he ate lunch with and what the highs and lows of his day were. Share a little bit about your day as well. For those parents who work after school as I do, try to call home and ask about his day over the phone. Connecting with a caring adult before delving into difficult homework can a help a child feel motivated to take on the homework challenge.

2. Get it done. Homework should be done as early in the afternoon as possible. If he plays sports after school, encourage him to do some of it at practice or during travel time and the rest of it after sports and dinner, usually around 7 or 8 p.m. Doing homework as early as possible will help to keep late nights to a minimum and promote much needed sleep.

3. Keep the time realistic. Designate a homework completion time and do only homework for that amount of time. Some children take longer to do homework than others, especially at the end of the day when they tired. Schools sometime assign more homework than these kids can handle in one night. Follow the “10-Minute Rule” formulated by the National PTA and the National Education Association, which recommends that kids should be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. So that students in seventh grade would be doing approximately 70 minutes of work per night on average, maybe more or less on any given night.

4. Have designated homework areas. Homework should be done in common areas so that parents are able to provide support and structure as needed. It’s easy for children and teens to become distracted and the presence of parents keeps kids focused and on task.

5. Remove devices. Nowadays teens are adamant that they need their devices to complete homework. Parents need to review that this is the case and make sure their teen is using technology only for homework during homework time and not for texting friends.

6. Be present. Parents can be sitting right next to their children teens and not be aware of what’s going on. Check in, without hovering, to make sure quality work is getting done.

7. Check assignments. Review assignment expectations and directions online. Just because your child is a teenager doesn’t mean he always understands and follow directions. Help him by asking him to explain complex assignments to make sure he understands the expectations.

8. Review mistakes but don’t correct them. Point out mistakes, but if he can’t correct them on his own, allow your child to go to school with mistakes in his homework. The teacher needs to know what he understands and if you do it for him, the problem will be masked and may go uncorrected for weeks.

9. Check grades. Grades are posted weekly online for most middle school and high school students. Check them to monitor progress and if a child is struggling, talk to him about options for improving. Look into homework clubs, student tutors and after-school help with teachers. Although homework expectations are high, help is available.

10. Ask for help. Parents are notorious for becoming over reactive and emotional when it comes to homework. If you find yourself in this predicament, take a step back and ask yourself, “Is it really that important?” If you are not able to recalibrate on your own, get help from someone like a friend or counselor who can help you get perspective. Homework is important, but it’s nothing compared to having a positive relationship with your child.






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