At this time that most kids have gone back to school, few are beginning to get used to the normal routine of reading, learning and most importantly working out homework.
Like many things, homework has become more complex and demanding than years before. Expectations are higher—for students and for teachers—and parents have the additional challenges of controlling iPad/smartphone/TV time, juggling jam-packed sports schedules, and mastering new curriculum.
Despite these, the good news is that you don’t need to be as involved as you might think. In fact, you shouldn’t be, because the purpose of homework is to help kids become independent learners.
This does not mean that you stick them in a room and expect they pop out 30 minutes later with all works done. NO! But there are simple tactics that can help make this process less painful for everyone involved.
Step 1: Let your child create a routine.
The first step is to empower your kid by giving her a say in when, where, and how she completes assignments. Ask if she has ideas for making homework more manageable If not, offer suggestions. For example, you may ask “Would it be helpful to have a snack first?” or “Do you want to play in the backyard before you start?” Have her write down the agreed-upon regimen, and post it as a reminder.
Keep in mind that you may have varying routines under one roof.
A mother of four in Accra, Ghana says that each of her kids does homework in different places. “My 9-year-old sits on the floor, my 16-year-old does it on her bed, and my other kids, ages 11 and 12, work at the dining-room table.” However, expert says the latter is a great option since you can be nearby for support while still doing your own thing.
One thing these kids share in common is that they get no screen time until their assignments are done. “This policy sends the message, ‘First you do your work, then you can watch TV,’ so establish this rule at the beginning of the school year, especially if you’ve let things slide during the summer.
Step 2: Mom and Dad Shouldn’t Do Homework
Homework lets teachers identify what students have absorbed in class, so don’t turn it into your assignment. Please understand that most teachers like to see mistakes but not all kids are comfortable making them, so you have to wean your child from the idea that he always needs to be correct.
Tell your kids they can ask up to three homework questions a night, but beyond that, they need to figure it out on their own—or circle the problem and show the teacher. In certain instances, your child may see you to be the only mom in the world who doesn’t give her kids the answers. But don’t worry, he will overcome it.
If your child yells, “Mom, I need help!” say you’ll be over once you finish whatever task you’re doing. “The longer you wait, the more likely he is to reread the instructions or rework the problem.
However, since homework is also a lesson in time management, don’t let your kid drag on indefinitely. Experts recommend just ten minutes a night per grade, meaning 20 minutes for a second-grader, 30 minutes for a third-grader, and so on. (Of course, that doesn’t include the time some kids spend complaining before putting pencil to paper.)
Keep an eye on the clock: If your kid is making an honest effort and the assignment isn’t done when the allotted time has ticked by, shut it down and write a note to the teacher.
Step 3: Put your kids in charge.
Homework is as much about learning responsibility as it is about grasping fractions. That means students should complete it to the best of their ability, pack it up, and get it to school themselves.
Although that may seem harsh, the fact is that teachers help children develop strategies for remembering their own stuff, and so bailing them out will short-circuit this system. When you teach your kid to be an independent learner, he/she will never text you a screenshot of the spelling words he fails to write in class.
If your kid complains that she can’t-do an assignment, let her turn it in incomplete and face the music. For example, if she fails to do her homework or she is excessively sloppy, have her do it during recess. Once she starts missing playtime, she’ll get the message.
Stepping back isn’t easy, but in the long run, it’s good for your child, and for you.
A father once said, “My son recently spilled food on his math worksheet. His teacher circled the red splotch and wrote, Please don’t eat while doing your homework. I loved it. He’s also lost points for messy handwriting and received notes about adding additional detail to his essays. The feedback from his teacher had far more impact than it will come from me”.
Hope you’ve had a ton of value from this post. More importantly, I hope you’ve learned something about how to tackle homework struggles. In our next lesson, we will continue looking at other strategies for making homework experience a better one for all.
Coming up next: Does your child struggles with homework? Part 2