How To Make Homework Time Easier for Everyone
Parenting is difficult. We knew this coming in, right? For many of us, the toughest part of our day is the hour (or two, or five) we spend helping our kids get their homework done! The combination of frustration, dread and feeling overwhelmed can lead kids to delay, negotiate, fight and complain, sometimes for hours on end. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Try these new tricks tonight!
Tip #1: Kids Love Routine!
You have probably noticed that your kids thrive when they know what to expect. Most children function best with a predictable routine. Lay out a plan for what evenings will look like in your home. For older children, it’s a great idea to get them involved in creating the routine! This builds their ability to organize and plan, develops their time management skills, and helps them see that their input is valuable to the family. Once your routine is laid out, post it where everyone can see it (pictures work great for younger kids), and stick to it! Remember, the purpose of the routine is to create predictability and relieve stress, so you must follow that routine whenever possible. There will be days when you must deviate, of course, but try to provide advance notice of those deviations. A good routine will help your evenings run more smoothly because everyone knows their role and what is expected of them!
Tip #2: Hydration Is Key!
Think about it. Our kids are in school for seven to eight hours each day, five days a week. In that time, their water consumption is extremely limited. By the time they arrive back home, dehydration is a reality for most school kids, whether they know it or not. This can lead to irritability, inattentiveness and drowsiness. Sound familiar? Let’s get those kids hydrated! Certainly, when they get home we want to give them a drink and snack (because they are also staaaaaarving, you know!), and allow a few minutes for that to hit the brain before heading into homework time. But what about those seven to eight hours? If your school allows it, send your kids with a water bottle and encourage them to drink it throughout the day. A good rule of thumb is to drink one bottle before lunch, have a drink at lunch, then refill that water bottle and finish it before the final bell. You may find your kids’ behavior improves significantly when they have had enough water throughout the day!
Tip #3: Create An Environment For Success
How do you approach an important work project? Most of us have found that we are not as efficient in getting our work done when we are lying in bed in our pajamas. Our kids are no different. To help them get their homework done more quickly and easily, set them up for success by creating an environment that is conducive to hard work and learning. For most, this means sitting at a table, especially for any assignment that is handwritten. Teach them to gather all of their supplies before they get started, to eliminate the need for getting up and done and minimize loss of focus and attention. We do this ourselves, don’t we? If we want to make lasagne, we certainly check to see that we have all the ingredients, and get everything prepared and ready, before we start assembling our meal. This same process will help your kids work more efficiently. Homework time is easier when the environment is prepared for success!
Tip #4: Head Them Off At the Pass
Parents, seriously. This is not our first rodeo. Most of us have been helping our kids with homework for years. Decades, for some of us! Before your sweet angel walks in the door, you already know what the homework battle will look like. You know the arguments that will be made. You know the things that will steal your child’s attention. You know that reading struggles will impact every subject. You know that math word problems will just about kill you both. So how can you plan ahead? Because you already have the “script”, you can intervene and take steps to change the ending! Prepare your response in advance. Make or purchase tools and resources that target your child’s specific learning issues. (Your child’s teacher can give you great ideas!) Help where you can, without doing your child’s work for them or impacting their grades. (Trust me, if you do, it will NOT help! Your child’s teacher needs to know where your child struggles!) If you are prepared, you will find you can stop many of the homework battles before they start!
Tip #5: Put A Reward System In Place
For a child who struggles with attention, reading, or just learning in general, school is hard. They are not making it up or being lazy; it’s hard. So the idea of more school at home can just about push them over the edge! For these kids, a reward system can really help give them that extra motivation! When you set up your reward system, don’t expect to change every negative behavior overnight. Pick one or two behaviors that you want to change, and target just those few until the bad habits disappear and are replaced with good ones. Then choose new areas of focus, and repeat the process. We recommend you minimize or avoid screen time, food or purchases as a reward, as these can have negative impacts later on. Instead, focus on things like outside play, playtime with a toy that is not accessible for everyday play, or playdates with friends. Use an incremental reward system, so they earn their rewards little by little. Stickers, pom poms, marbles or other small items can be used as a visual representation of their progress towards the reward. This is especially helpful with young children. For teens, extra privileges work as great motivators! And special time with Mom or Dad works to motivate a child of any age!
Tip #6: Attack The Problem At Its Root
Why does your child struggle? You know what the homework battle looks like, you can describe in detail where your child struggles. But why do they struggle at all? When someone struggles to focus, learn, read or remember, the problem is usually brain-based. There are seven key cognitive skills that make up the foundation of how we focus and learn. If your child struggles across multiple years, or in multiple areas, the issue is most likely brain-based. To find out, you should have your child’s cognitive skills assessed to see which core skills are strong, and which are weak. Armed with a solid understanding of how your child’s brain processes information, you will be able to make decisions about how to eliminate homework battles by helping your child overcome learning struggles once and for all. Contact our center to schedule your child’s assessment today! It’s time for solid answers.
Homework time does not have to be stressful. Armed with these tips, homework time can be easier for everyone! In fact, many of our graduates report they now have no homework at all, because when their brains can focus better and think faster, they are able to get their work done in class! Start integrating these tips into your family’s evenings, and watch homework time change for the better!