A recent study from The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), found that the amount of homework our children do has little correlation to test scores. Despite these and similar findings, homework has become a cultural norm in the US. While you, your child, and probably even their teacher hate homework, it’s got to get done. Here are five strategies to help make the homework process more peaceful and productive.
Set the Standard
Some children will respond better to diving right into homework after school, where others need to unwind a bit. Once you figure out whether right after school, after a snack (or refreshing Tickle Water!) or after dinner works best for them, try to stick to a regular schedule, including a workaround to allow for after school activities.
Ask your child where they would like to do their homework. As long as you feel like it’s a good location with minimal distractions, make that “the spot” moving forward. It’s good to have one consistent place that they associate with quiet and focus. Younger ones may need some oversight, so check in periodically to make sure they’re staying on track, or sit with them while you get some busy work done at the same time.
Give Them Space, But Be Prepared to Help
Ideally, homework should reinforce what your child has recently learned. Your help should not be required, but let them know that you are available to guide them but not give them the answers. If you find that they are asking for help a lot, address this with their teacher.
Tell it Like it Is
Your child is not going to buy it if you pretend that homework is all sunshine and roses, but it’s good to talk about it. Tell them stories about your own struggles with homework, or relate it to challenges you might have with your responsibilities now, like paying bills or doing laundry.
When they do good work, reinforce it by praising them. If they’re flagging, remind them that something good awaits when they finish, like free time or even screen time. This can help them buckle down, but keep your eyes peeled for rushing.
Homework issues can stir up a lot of conflict between parent and child. If your child is pushing back, cutting corners, goofing off or expecting you to do the work for them, it’s important to voice that in a firm, but loving way. If you feel your temperature rising, or notice that theirs is, walk away and come back when you can set the right example.