Ending Homework Nightmares
I hate homework! Have you heard this or a similar comment around your house since school has started? Trust me, you wouldn’t be the first. Many kids and parents dread the start of school not just because they have to come to school, but often because of the hours of dreadful time spent staring at homework they don’t want to do, or worse yet, don’t know how to do. May be I can help you out with the following ideas and guidelines for successfully completing homework on a regular basis.
This might be a hard sell for your child to buy in to, but a moderate amount of homework every evening actually is a good thing. It helps to develop strong study skills, builds a routine, and creates the opportunity for learning on a regular pace rather than "cramming" for the test. Also, the parents that treat homework as a priority are teaching their children that learning and school are important aspects in their children’s lives. So, how does your child become successful at completing homework?
- To begin, how much homework should your child be doing on a regular basis? Of course this varies on the child’s age and ability level, but a general rule of thumb is 10 minutes per the child’s grade level. I.E. first grade = 10 minutes, second grade = 20 minutes, third grade = 30 minutes. Again, this will vary based on projects due and time of the grading quarter, but it makes for a good benchmark. If a second grade child finds themselves stranded at the homework table for two hours every night, it’s time to ask questions.
- First, try to set a regular homework routine. At our house we always allowed our boys time to get home, relax and tell us about their day. My wife or I would go through their book bags, assignment books, folders, etc… then time for a little snack and start on the homework. This allowed the work of the day to not be pushed into the late hours when everyone is tired and often things like homework get pushed to the side. It is not necessarily important that a child start their homework immediately after they get home from school, however, it is important that a specific time is set aside each day for homework. It may be at right after the children get home, may be before dinner, or after dinner. The time of day is not as critical as the fact that in your house a specific time is designated as "homework time".
- What location is best for your child to do homework? Kitchen table, bedroom, family room, etc… Again, there are many different choices that work for a variety of children. Much of this depends on your child’s age and ability level. Children up to second grade typically do better at a place where they can be watched from a reasonable distance but not actually sat with. Around the age of nine of older many children start to become fairly strong and independent when it comes to homework and may do well to work away from others. This may be a time when a child is fine to work by themselves in their bedroom or other designated homework areas. A homework place should never have televisions or stereo’s going when the child is in the elementary years. Later on, a student may be able to handle background noise without being distracted, but don’t push your luck with younger students.
Many parents think they are helping their child when they sit by the child’s side on a nightly basis and help the child through their work. You are creating a parent-dependent child for homework. It is not unusual for these parents to be doing most of the work and sweating the final grades while the student is watching the clock to see how much more time before they can get away from the table. Homework is intended to be the responsibility of the child and therefore needs to be completed by the child. The parent needs to assume the role as the supporter. I suggest that you sit for about five minutes with children under the age of eight and determine exactly what the homework assignment is and make sure they understand all the directions. After that, remove yourself from the child’s side. Reinforce the idea that when the child is finished with their work, you will be available to check it and answer questions they may have. If the child continues to ask questions in the middle of their work, simply remind them to move to the next question and when they are finished with everything you will be available to look at their question. The pitfall that many parents find themselves in is responding every time the child has a question. The next thing you know, you are sitting next to the child doing their work.
What if you believe you are doing everything right but homework continues to be a nightmare? First, talk to your child’s teacher. Make sure you are doing what the teacher expects in terms of homework. Explain to the teacher what the homework scene looks like at your house and see if they think it is normal or acceptable. You may have a child with a learning disability that has not been identified and you and your child sit in a room of frustration every evening. If you or the child’s teacher suspects a learning disability, you may want to pursue more information through an educational evaluation. To initiate this process, talk with your child’s teacher or counselor.
I hope these ideas are helpful. If you have any specific questions, please contact me at school. Thank you for your concern and willingness to be the best parent you can be. Some day your child will appreciate your efforts too.
In the Best Interest of our Children!