How Not to Fight about Homework

HomeworkSchool has barely started yet the fights over homework have already become part of your afterschool routine. Nip homework fighting in the bud by following these key steps:

Step 1: Establish a set time for homework. Work with your child to determine when the best time to do homework is. Some kids need a break and a snack after a long day at school before diving into additional work and others prefer to get it done and out of the way. Let your child be part of the decision making process as to when homework gets done and you’ll likely gain more cooperation.

Step 2: Create a homework area that is free from distractions. Set your child up for success by ensuring he has easy access to the tools he needs to complete his assignments. Provide a well-lit area with enough work space to spread out his materials. The designated table or desk can make for a great homework space. Be available to assist your child if needed, but try not to hover over him while he’s doing his work.

Step 3: Make sure he’s well rested and well fed before starting in. Overtired and hungry kids will have a hard time focusing on their schoolwork. If your child is going to be doing his homework before dinner, be sure he has an adequate snack. If he’s exhausted, encourage a cat nap before he beings his work. It will take twice as long for him to get his schoolwork done if he isn’t able to focus.

Step 4: Communicate your support of the teacher. It’s important that your child don’t think homework is a waste of time or that it’s optional. If you send the message that homework has no value, your child will receive that message and it will provide fuel to his fight against homework. Instead, communicate why homework must be done and make it clear that you value education. If your child understands you value good grades he’s more likely to strive to get them.

Step 5: Allow for downtime. All work and no play will make your child resent school. Provide an opportunity each day for free play or downtime so that your child has some control over how he spends his afterschool time. If he knows he can do what he wants, within reason, after his homework is completed he’ll be more likely to want to get his school work done.

Different school systems and even different teachers will have different policies on how much homework is assigned. If it’s taking your child hours to complete his assignments or if his level of frustration is unmanageable, talk to his teacher directly rather than simply telling your child the amount of homework he has is ridiculous. This helps to avoid sending the message the teacher is doing something wrong and provides you with an opportunity to clarify homework expectations. Remember, parents are partners in their children’s education and it’s important that children hear that message at home.