The seasons are funny. We wish for the warmth of summer but after two months, parents are counting down to fall and the start of school – except that with the start of school comes HOMEWORK. Uck.
You know, that stuff that turns your kids into weepy messes. Or tantrum monsters. Or defiant demons. They refuse to do it and you spend two hours screaming about it and then perhaps you even do it for them. Yes, you know who you are. We will get back to you in a bit.
So how can you make homework time work better for you and your child? Here are a few tips:
Find a Homework Spot
This is something that you do WITH your kids. Ask them where they would like to do their homework and why. Perhaps different subjects can be done in different places. For example, written homework needs a table but reading may be done best in a soft chair or couch. Some kids do well with privacy, other will not get anything done when left all alone. It may take a few tries, and some discussions about why one place works and another place won’t.
Once you have a spot, make sure that all the materials are readily available. Pens, pencils erasers, paper, computer, water, snack, whatever is needed, so that once your child starts, they do not need to stop to get up and find things. That will help them stay focused on the task at hand.
Set a Homework Time
Some kids need a bit of time to wind down, while others need to start working right away or they lose momentum. Some kids like to wait until after dinner to do their work. Again, talk with your kids about the best time for them to do their homework and why. Young children might have an easier time getting to it right away or after a snack. They may have a harder time getting back into work mode after playing, but you know your kids so do what works best for them. Once you have a time stick to it. Kids work best with a routine. So do many grown ups.
Set Clear Homework Expectations and Consequences
Homework is not only to be completed, but to be done at the best of your child’s ability. Now that being said, we are talking about your child’s ability, not yours, or their peers, or their siblings. Not everyone’s handwriting will be beautiful, not everyone will have the most creative or elaborate sentences, not everyone will read at the same speed or level. It needs to be done to the best of your child’s ability, and honestly that may change from time to time or day to day. Sometimes we are tired or grumpy and we are just not able to give 100%. Happens to the best of us.
On to the consequences part. Notice the word consequences, not punishment. Your child is not going to get punished for avoiding their homework, there will just be some consequences that will befall you child.
Here are two very powerful consequences for choosing not to do ones homework:
1. They will not have time to do the things that they want to do. Play, watch TV, have family movie night, go outside….. Let me be clear. You are not holding these things hostage. Your child can do any of these activities as soon as they finish their homework. You are not taking anything away. The options are on the table as long as the homework is done in a timely manner. There will probably be crying or screaming or nasties but stand strong. You may be invited into an argument but you do not have to accept that invitation.
2. They go into school with homework unfinished and get the consequence from the teacher. Most likely they will have to stay in at recess to do it or stay late or they get a bad grade and a good talking’ to. Coming from a teacher this can be a powerful, and slightly, embarrassing situation. You can call or email the teacher to let them know your plan so that they know that you are await of the non homework doing situation.
Remember: IT IS THEIR HOMEWORK NOT YOURS
This is for those of you, and you know who you are, who DO their kids homework. Perhaps you do not want to hear the whining. Maybe they just didn’t do it well enough. Maybe you want them to get the best grade. NOT OK PARENTS. Let us call that a parenting FAIL.
Here are a list of reasons that doing your kids homework is not ok:
1. Your children learn that if you yell loud enough or complain long enough, other people will do things for you.
2. Your children learn that they are not good enough, creative enough, smart enough, enough enough…This is very detrimental to self-esteem. And kids with low self-esteem partake in risky behavior. Not only that, do you really want to send a message to your kids that they are not good enough or that only perfection is accepted? Perfection is hard to achieve once, let alone on a daily basis. And what will one miss out on while trying to achieve perfection? What are YOU missing out on while you do your child’s homework?
3. Your child’s teacher will not know what your child does and does not understand about the lesson. By the way, they really DO know that you are doing the homework. You are not fooling anyone.
4. Kids learn by doing and if you are doing the work for them, how will your kids learn?
5. Will you follow your children to college or their first job and do the same thing? Will you do their work for them? What happens when you don’t and they have to work on their own? What happens the first time that they, or their work is not perfect?
Now you have some ideas for making homework time less stressful for you and your child! WOW, what will you do will all of the free time that you have found now that you are not yelling, or fighting with your kids about homework or doing it for them?