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How to respond when your kids are complaining about homework

Carolyn Rahaman is a professional SSAT tutor and contributing writer for Varsity Tutors. She holds a Master's degree in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University.

Students, regardless of age, often procrastinate on their homework. After all, they have just spent seven (or more) hours in school.

Complaining is natural, but homework exists to help your child practice and refine the skills she learns in class. It is a necessity. Here are five common homework complaints, as well as strategies to solve them.

"I have too much homework"

A very common complaint from students is that they have too much homework. This may be the result of several factors. If your child considers any homework at all to be "too much," the work may be too difficult. It is possible that she takes longer than her teacher expects because the core concepts elude her understanding. This is a sign that your student requires additional help or needs to further study and practice those concepts. It may also be that your child is not leaving herself enough time for homework, and she should start earlier and adjust her expectations. If none of these are the case, your student's teacher may be making unreasonable demands of her class, in which case you or your child should have a respectful discussion with him.

"This is too hard!"

If your student is struggling, consider requesting additional help. She can speak with her teacher before or after school, work with a study group or review with a parent at home. Occasionally, when children complain that their assignments are too difficult, it is not because they cannot complete the work, but because they do not feel confident in their abilities. Encourage your student to try, and remind her that homework is there in order to help her improve.

"I left my book at school"

Homework is a responsibility, and part of this responsibility involves preparedness. Your child must learn to remember the materials she needs, not just to do well on her homework, but also to do well in college and in the workplace later on. Emphasize that she should bring all her materials home, and remind her that if she forgets, there are consequences (such as a poor grade on the homework assignment).

"I'm tired"

If your student is too tired to do her homework, re-evaluate if she is over-scheduled. Homework is a priority, and extracurriculars are not an excuse for failing to finish it. If your child must participate in an important activity or event, help her plan ahead and complete her homework ahead of time.

"I don't know what my teacher wants me to do"

Many students complain that they do not know what their teacher expects from an assignment. If this is a persistent problem, prompt your child to have a discussion with her instructor about expectations. Teachers will often be transparent about their expectations, and they are typically happy to explain them if a student asks. Your child can also ask other students or check class documents. If her concerns involve just one assignment, and she does not have the opportunity to ask her instructor, she can do her best, explain her worries to her teacher, and then offer to correct it if her work is incorrect.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

Photo credit: Steve Debenport/E+/Getty Images
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