Five easy ways to help with the homework struggle
At the end of the day, many parents struggle motivating their children to complete nightly homework assignments. Some children dread studying, while others feel overwhelmed and overworked.
For some parents, it can feel like another responsibility to add to the daily list of “to dos” that is already 100 items long.
Yes, homework is valuable and can reinforce information learned at school. However, the conflict and vicious cycle of arguments and rebuttal it can cause on a daily basis can overrule the potential benefits if not addressed properly.
Below are some suggestions to try at home that may help your child not only complete their homework, but begin to enjoy the process. While there will most likely always be some struggle and frustration, being proactive with these suggestions may ease the routine.
1. Schedule It
Set aside a specific time during the afternoon/evening that is consistent. A time when your child is expected to sit down and do their homework. Many experts suggest this time should not be scheduled directly after school. Children need a break and early afternoon should be spent doing extra-curricular activities, sports or other enjoyable recreation to help children clear their head after sitting for hours already. Depending on the grade of your child, this scheduled time, whether a half hour or more, should be TV, phone and electronics-free, unless the homework requires computer accessibility. Children thrive on routines so incorporating homework into your everyday schedule can ease the pushback.
2. Create a Desirable Environment
Ken Barish, Ph.D. and author of “Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems,” says children have shown to perform better while in a quiet, library-like communal setting with parents and/or other children. For example, maybe the dining room table makes sense for your family. If your child works better alone, creating a quiet, comfortable, even cozy environment for them to be in can make all the difference in the world while doing homework. Whether it is a cozy nook in the living room, the dining room table, or a desk in their bedroom, creating a space that is desirable for them to retreat to can help motivate them. Obviously the more toys and distractions around the harder it may be for your child to concentrate.
3. Set Attainable Expectations
If a scheduled homework routine is new for your household, set attainable expectations with your child. For example, you can help them ease into the idea by starting out with half hour scheduled time, then begin a full hour of scheduled homework or whatever is age-appropriate in the following days. Also, be interactive with your children and be present to answer questions. You should not have to do their homework or expect them to have every answer correct. Be present to help them and, once they are done, look over their homework so you can work with them on any major errors. This alone can help boost their confidence by aiding them in figuring out the correct answers.
4. Make it Fun
No, homework and learning is not always fun. In fact, it can be a struggle for many children but do your best to make it positive and enjoyable. Maybe it is a favorite snack during that time, some light music playing in the background, or maybe the space you set up has your child’s favorite posters, pencils or study light. Do your best to make it a time and space that has a positive vibe for them.
5. Reward Accordingly With Positive Affirmations
Barish also points out how important it is for parents to praise their children for doing good work or taking the responsibility to finish an assignment. If over a period of time your child’s grades go up, then present little rewards after report cards or positive parent-teacher conference meetings. Make sure it is something they can really look forward to and that helps them in taking responsibility for completing assignments.
If these methods or other methods fail to be successful despite your efforts to assist, always consult with your child’s teacher first. Understanding how they are interacting during school hours can also give you a good idea on strategies to implement for successful learning at home as well.
Hale ’Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Esther Solomon at email@example.com. For more information about Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, please go to www.haleopio.org