Whether you agree with homework or not it seems to be part of most school’s current programs. So how do parents avoid homework battles?
Homework is generally set to give children the opportunity to:
- practice and consolidate skills;
- practice creative thinking or problem solving; and
- carry out long term projects.
Completing homework should not be about acquiring new skills.
The one thing I hear from many parents is that homework battles are very common and that they can be very painful to deal with.
As I outlined in another recent BLOG – ‘Who’s responsibility is it to ensure homework is completed?” – it is the child’s. It is also an arrangement they have with their teacher and school and this needs to be kept front of mind too. Having said that I do agree that parents also still play a role in monitoring, supporting, guiding, teaching and ensuring that children complete their homework themselves.
8 tips to try and avoid homework battles include:
- Send clear messages about homework – including that it is an important part of school; you will give your child support if they need it and that you will not be doing their homework for them.
- Have a plan – this really is key for students of all ages in tackling their homework. Depending upon what it is they need to do a plan can be detailed or just written down on a scrap piece of paper. The plan should include a rough outline of what they need to do and a guide as to how much time they need to spend on each aspect. Then it is useful to work out what subject to start with first – for some children it could be the easiest or for others they like to tackle the hardest. Ask them what they would like to start with. By having a plan they are more likely to make a start as well as to get their homework done.One important point for parents is not to assume they know how to do this and you may need to teach them how to put a basic plan together first then be their to support until they can do it by themselves.
- Breaking into chunks – sometimes it is the homework task itself that can be overwhelming so it is useful to assist your child to know how to break tasks down into chunks that can be dealt with during the same homework session or on different days. It is common to assume they have been taught how to do this and therefore we often just expect them to be able to know how to do this when the reality is they don’t necessarily understand. If this is the case it is useful to work with them and explain how.
- Develop set homework times/routines – work with your child to develop times when they can get their homework done around their other activities. Having set times tends to work for younger children where as older children might like more flexibility around taking responsibility for when to complete theirs. One thing to be aware of is to determine the best times around children’s energy levels. Often the best time can be after they get home from school and have had something to eat – usually within 30 minutes to an hour at most.
- Find the best place for them – have a discussion with your child, particularly older children, as to where they feel they work best and then help them to create the right space and environment ie does it need to be quiet, do they want to have music playing or maybe they work best in amongst it all in the kitchen space? Be aware that they might also like different spaces depending upon what homework it is they are doing at the time. I recently found out, by asking, that one of my students hated the desk space she worked in as she found it really dark so she avoided using it. After speaking to her parents and with a coat of paint and more lighting she actually was happy to start working in there again.
- Minimise distractions – I could write a whole BLOG on this alone however I would like to highlight that parents can help children become aware of distractions and work with them to come up with the best solution that will work ie help them to turn notifications from social media off on devices they are working on or remove phones to another room whilst they are working. Where possible get them to come up with the decisions on what to do rather than dictate them as they are more likely to stick to them then too.
- Help them to get started – often this can be the hardest part. As we know many children like to procrastinate and never seem to have any trouble finding other things to do. One way to help get them started is to set a time for 20 minutes and then allow them a 5 minute break before setting again. Sometimes this is enough to anchor them to their desk to complete homework. For some children using incentives can also assist them to get their homework done ie give them something they look forward to doing as soon as they finish homework.
- Make sure they have all the supplies – often this can be an issue as children complain they don’t havewhat they need. Therefore parents can assist to make sure they have a variety of supplies at hand and close by to where the children complete their homework so there really are no excuses. It might even be worth checking in with them from time to time on upcoming homework they need to complete if you need to make any specific purchases like poster paper or other supplies.
Homework battles can be very draining on everyone involved so the more planning and educating you can do to assist your children the easier they should become. Why not give some of these tips a go to see if you can avoid homework battles in your home making it much better for everyone!
If you would like to discuss the regular challenges you have or to know more about how I can assist you and your family please get in touch.