By Jenny Wise
Most parents have happy memories from their children’s youth, but doing homework isn’t usually one of them. Those dreaded words, “I need help with my homework” is enough to send the bravest mom and dad scattering, muttering flimsy excuses about giving the dog a bath or cleaning the storage closet.
You can do a lot to remove the drama from the situation by preparing yourself, your home, and your kid. Read these tips to help with homework time.
Talk to the teachers
Many parents don’t take advantage of a great opportunity to learn exactly what’s expected when it comes to homework. Make a point of meeting with teachers so you can find out what you can do to help the children learn their material. You need to know how assignments should be turned in (hard copy or electronically), what the policy is if an assignment is turned in late, or if it’s possible to make up homework if it gets overlooked.
Same time, same place
Establishing homework expectations means setting a time and place so it becomes a built-in part of your child’s daily after-school routine.
Your kids need a comfortable, spacious, and well-lit part of the house for homework. It can be the dining room table, a bean bag chair in the corner of the living room, or a well-appointed study space in their bedroom. Homework should be done at the same time every afternoon or evening and must be enforced – video games, Facetiming, and outdoor play must wait until homework is complete.
Make sure your children have everything they need for homework before they leave school grounds. “I forgot it” is one of the oldest excuses there is for getting out of homework.
Help, don’t take over
As a parent with responsibilities of your own, it can be tempting to take over and do homework for your child just to get it over with. Bear in mind that kids don’t learn anything when they’re not doing the work themselves.
Your role is to advise and remind them about basic concepts and steps that need to be taken. Otherwise, they’ll get very little out of the experience.
One effective way to help is to organize study time. If your child has a lot of homework, more than 2 hours’ worth, you’ll need to work in a couple of breaks of about 15 to 20 minutes each. Break the work up into segments, or time units, so your child isn’t facing a seemingly endless stream of work.
Homework space should be separated from distractions such as televisions, gaming devices, or handheld devices.
Loud music constitutes a distraction, though playing some soft, calming music can be beneficial and help your child relax. Above all, there should be no phone calls or time taken for exchanging text messages.
Be a booster
Parents can get frustrated over homework, just like kids. You might get impatient when seemingly simple concepts or processes are misunderstood.
Avoid saying things that make it clear you’re frustrated or angry. Instead, encourage your child. Make sure he knows you’re there to help and that you believe in him. Be sure to talk to the teacher if homework proves too difficult every night.
Promise your kids that you’ll do a family activity together outside if they get their homework done. Check out this list of fun outdoor activities including bird watching, camping, or a treasure hunt.
These are great family bonding opportunities and provide motivation for completing homework. If it’s too rainy or cold outside, look over these tips for indoor entertainment for the kids.
Homework is a reality for all school-age children. Whether your child gets through homework with no problem or struggles with each assignment, you, as a parent, can be an anchor to help your child succeed.
Jenny is a homeschooling mom to four children. She created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families.