Homework is part of life — and so are the parent-kid struggles that come with it. Here, expert moms chime in with tips to make homework time less stressful.
1. Start young
Even kindergarteners have homework, so start them off with good study habits from the beginning. As they grow, the difficulty and amount of homework they have will increase, and the habits they develop as young students will contribute to their success throughout their school careers.
2. Establish a time
Rachel Rudman is a pediatric occupational therapist who encourages parents to pick a consistent homework time and stick to it. “Depending on the child,” says Rudman, “that may be right after school, or they may need a break first.” Kids thrive on routine. If they know what time they have to do homework, they’re able to prepare themselves mentally.
3. Pick a place
Homework should be done in a quiet place — at a bedroom desk or the kitchen table, for instance. Your child can help figure out the best spot.
4. Get organized
“Be sure the desk or table surface is clear,” says Rudman. Make everything your kids need to complete their homework readily accessible. You don’t want to spend 10 valuable homework minutes searching for paper or pencils.
5. Eliminate distractions
“During homework, there should be no TV, no texting, no computer,” advises learning specialist Jill Lauren. Electronics interrupt and stretch out the homework process. “Kids benefit from learning when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play,” says Lauren.
6. Build in breaks
After a long day of school, children can become stressed by the homework looming over them. “The timing can seem indefinite to them,” says Rudman. Angela Lin, creator of iWantHighMarks.com, says kids dread the idea of doing homework for long periods without rest and recommends five- to 10-minute “power breaks.” Rudman suggests using a kitchen timer to keep track of time.
7. Include snacks
“During homework, provide your child with a crunchy snack,” suggests Rudman. “Eating something crunchy like carrot sticks or pretzel rods helps with organization.” But use care: You don’t want your child’s books or papers to get soiled!
8. Be available
Homework helps your child work independently, so don’t hover, interrupt or offer too much input. “Encourage, praise and support, but do not complete any work,” says Amy Hilbrich Davis of InspiringMoms.com. “There is important growth associated with the process of understanding, attempting, asking questions and completing the work.”
9. Join them
Mom Lelaine P uses homework time to do her own assignments. “They do their schoolwork while I do mine,” says Lelaine, “such as writing thank-you notes, paying bills, planning meals and functions, or reading.”
10. Keep a homework log
Help your child create a homework notebook in which she jots down all her assignments during the school day. Review the notebook as soon as she comes home. With a homework log, big assignments such as reports and projects won’t come as a surprise.
More tips for homework success >>
How to reduce homework stress
The simple question, “Have you done your homework?” can lead to tears, tantrums and tirades. But homework time doesn’t have to turn your home into a battlefield.