Few children enjoy doing homework. After a long day at school with precious little time to stretch their legs and enjoy active play, often the last thing a child wants to do is more work. Most families have engaged in the homework battle at some point, facing anything from mild procrastination to prolonged meltdowns at homework time. Parents and children alike dread homework struggles. Whether homework hassles occur daily or only once in a while, here are some tips to help ease or prevent homework stress.
1. Create a Routine
Kids do well when following a predictable routine, so set a regular time for doing homework. Think about your child's personality and daily rhythms, and follow her lead. Some kids may need to play for a while before doing homework, while others are more successful doing homework as soon as they get home. Remember to take extracurricular and family activities into account when setting homework time.
2. Designate a Homework Spot
Having a regular place in which to do homework is important to routine. Help your child find a spot in your home that will allow them to concentrate and in which they are comfortable.
3. Keep Supplies Handy
Make sure homework supplies are organized and accessible, so no one has to go searching for them at homework time. Keep a box of pens, pencils, glue, paper, and other supplies in an easy-to-reach location.
4. Be a Role Model and Stay Close
If possible, use your child's homework time to do your own homework like paying bills or answering emails. By doing so, you're role-modeling responsibility, and creating a supportive we're-in-this-together atmosphere that can help your child's attitude toward homework. Stay nearby to offer help if needed.
5. Turn On Some Music
Music can help some kids concentrate. Choose soothing music without lyrics, since lyrics can be distracting.
6. Give Them a Break
Have your child work for short periods, take a quick break. Active kids might need five minutes to run around outside, bounce on a trampoline, or shoot some hoops before they can continue concentrating on homework. A five minute activity-break for every 10 to 20 minutes of study time can stimulate focus.
7. Encourage Fidgeting
Being able to move around while doing homework can help some kids concentrate better. Try letting your child chew some sugarless gum, sit on an exercise ball or rocking chair, or squeeze a stress ball while they work.
8. Make a List
For the disorganized child, having a checklist of tasks can help them get everything done and keep them focused.
9. Know When to Help
Take time to find out if your child needs help with the work. Sometimes homework struggles are a matter of motivation, but sometimes the real problem is one of ability. Pay attention to her work, and check it over. Ask your child if she understands the work, or if she's having trouble with it. Talk to your child's teachers to determine about how long homework should take; if your child is spending more time on homework than expected, she may need help with the subject. If you are not able to provide the help your child needs, enlist the help of her teacher.
10. Offer Praise and Incentives
Compliment your child when she works with focus, when she puts in effort, when she sticks with a problem until she solves it, or when she finishes her work without reminders. Consider offering incentives. For younger kids, try offering extra playtime, a favorite game, or read-aloud time. Older kids my prefer a favorite TV show, computer time, or telephone time. Ask your kids what incentives appeal to them.
Remember that forming a new habit takes between one and three months, so give any new homework routine time.