Does Homework Stress Out the Entire Family?
Do you and your child spend the hour before dinner arguing about getting homework done? Or, for your family, is it the evening hours after dinner? Is your child staying up later and later at night working on homework? Is this your scenario, and after all these struggles, do you get a school report stating your child’s homework completion is affecting their grades? Many families can answer yes to these questions. Homework completion is a common struggle causing tension in the home and stress with students.
There are many factors leading to homework hassles. Most, however, can be addressed and resolved with simple interventions. For cases more advanced or where other interventions have not been met with success, there are professionals who specialize in homework and time management. In most cases, your child will benefit by simply initiating some direction and routine setting.
Let Someone Else Be the Bad Guy
If you are already encountering issues surrounding homework completion and routines, it may be helpful to have an outside person step in to “be the bad guy.” A tutor with skills in time management and organization can help to initially set up the routines but then teach your child to manage work independently. Imagine your family spending the evenings participating in family leisure time as opposed to arguing about homework.
The first step to resolving homework conflicts would be to gain understanding about how your child feels about homework. To many students, homework really is a four letter word times two. Look at it from your child’s perspective; they have just spent all day in school, only to come home to sometimes a few more hours of work looming. Assigned homework should really not take this long but if your child feels overwhelmed, it may take even longer. Teachers should be using an age appropriate guide for minutes spent doing homework. Most experts agree on an average of 10 minutes per grade level. For example, 10 minutes for 1st grade, 40 minutes for 4th grade, etc. If you feel that your child has more homework than suggested, you may consider contacting the teacher to find out their personal assignment guidelines.
Let’s look at the work your child currently has and break it up into manageable chunks. You can actually set reasonable time limits on assignments in each subject. For instance (5th grade student with 50 minutes of homework), set 20 minutes aside for math practice, 20 minutes for social studies, etc.
In middle school, teaching teams should be talking to each other to make sure your child does not have homework in all content areas on the same night. Also, remember homework is meant to be a checking system for what your child has learned in class. If your child is struggling with a concept then they should see their teacher about it the next day.
Shed the Stress First
Another strategy is to remove as much stress from the process as possible. Give your child at least 30 minutes after school to unwind and have a snack. Try to find out what kind of day he or she had at school. If there is carry over stress from the school day, this could affect homework completion. Simply help your child organize and strategize, then walk away. You have to remove your attachment to the homework. It may be beneficial to have a tutor come in and set up a homework help routine leaving you as a supportive guide. The more you empathize with your child’s fears and frustration, the easier it will be to help them achieve.
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