Minimize homework hassles

January 17, 2012 | Posted in: Early Learners, Elementary

Your third grader bounds off the school bus, races into the house and tosses his backpack carelessly on the floor. He grabs the television remote and flicks on the TV before heading into the kitchen for a snack. Homework is clearly the furthest thing from his mind, and though you’re reluctant to bring it up, you know he has an activity in a few hours.

“You have tae kwon do tonight, so you should get your homework done now,” you say.

Your comment is met with an all-too-familiar scowl.

“Mom, I’ve been at school all day. Can’t I relax for a while?”

He’s got a point, but you know the battle won’t be any easier in an hour. For your child, homework is a chore to be avoided as long as possible. And the nightly battles leave you feeling like you’re practically doing your son’s homework just to get it out of the way.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, homework can help younger students (grades K-2) to develop good study habits and positive attitudes. Homework for third through sixth grade students, gradually increased each year, may support improved school achievement.

So as tempting as it may be, your job as a parent isn’t to do your child’s homework. Your role is to be more like a stage manager, providing a suitable workspace, ensuring a dedicated time for homework and making sure all necessary materials are collected in advance.

Set a schedule for doing homework.

Involve your child in determining a homework schedule that works for your family. Some children need downtime after school, while others benefit from getting the job done right away. It’s also important to be flexible based on the timing of other extracurricular activities. If your child tends to put off getting necessary tasks done, consider setting a minimum amount of time dedicated to learning-related activities each night. The U.S. Department of Education uses a 10-minutes-per-grade homework guideline, so for a third grader, that would be 30 minutes. Some families have a set amount of time that must be spent on learning-related activities. That figure could include 30 minutes on homework and 20 minutes reading, for example.

Choose a designated space.

Select a well-lit spot where your children can focus and do their homework on a regular basis. Remove distractions by turning off the television and/or radio, and ask other family members to find quiet activities to do during homework time. Be sure all the supplies your child needs – pencils, erasers, paper, etc. – are available at the start of each session so they don’t get distracted while looking for them. And, consider decorating the study area with your child’s artwork or other items to personalize the space and make it more welcoming.

Set an example.

Read a book or newspaper, work on the computer, balance your checkbook or measure for a new bookshelf while your child is completing homework. He will begin to understand that the skills he is learning now will be used as an adult. Talk about school and learning in family conversations. Ask your child what she learned in school that day or about a book she’s reading. Engage in conversation and you’ll show you are interest in her and her education.


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