It’s no secret that many kids hate homework – and that can make parents hate it, too. Whether you’re dealing with nightly battles just to get your kid to do it or you have one of those teachers who think three hours of homework is acceptable for a second grader, you may be looking for solutions and asking questions like:
How can I make homework time less stressful?
Should my kids do their homework as soon as they get home?
What can I do to create a good environment for studying?
Is there anything that will make homework fun?
In HelloJoey’s “Homework: From Hassle to Happy” kit, we weigh the pros and cons homework to help you figure out what’s effective and what isn’t. We also talk with the experts to give you tips and techniques that may take some of the stress out of homework.
Finding the right time
In many families, kids come home from school and immediately sit down to complete their schoolwork. If that works for you, that’s great! However, if that seems to bring on a meltdown most afternoons, it’s okay to reconsider.
Some kids can’t jump into homework right away after a long day at school. They may need to vent their frustrations or run around to burn off some energy. To reduce some of the stress around homework time, check in with your kids before you sit down to start.
How tired are they?
Are they hungry – or hangry?
Do they need to talk about anything upsetting or frustrating that happen at school?
Getting your kids physically and mentally prepared to start homework might take care of some of the frustrations you usually experience.
It’s also okay to work with your child’s natural rhythms and temperament. Do you have an early riser who has tons of energy in the morning? Tackling homework before school might be a better solution. There are no rules about the ideal time to do schoolwork, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what works best for your child.
Finding the right place
Just like a cramped, generic cubicle can feel soul-crushing, the place where your child does their homework might be causing part of your problem. Customizing your child’s homework space can make them more excited – or at least more willing – to sit down and do it.
First, make sure the space is comfortable. If your child’s feet don’t reach the floor at the kitchen table, they’re not going to be able to sit and focus for any significant amount of time. To find the right spot, get your child involved and test out different locations with different chairs or work surfaces to see where they’re able to work best.
To make homework more fun, customize your child’s workspace in little ways so that it’s more inviting. That could be a colorful desk or a special homework mug – or even a special back pillow. You don’t want distractions like photos or toys, but turn the area into a place your child wants to be.
Finding the right tools
When your child does homework, of course they’re learning spelling or math or history – but they’re also learning important skills like time management, planning, and organization. The executive functions of the brain that handle these types of skills are still developing in kids, so they may struggle with getting their materials together or staying focused, which can lead to frustration for everyone.
To help reduce homework stress, parents and teachers can use tools like timers, calendars, and agendas that help kids set goals and track their progress. Timers used during homework are great for giving kids visual or audial cues that they need to ramp up their efforts to complete their tasks. For older kids, some studies show that using weekly or monthly calendars for long-term assignments also helps impose structure and self-monitoring for students.
Keeping your kids organized and focused will help them complete their homework more quickly, minimizing the stress that comes along with it. You can make a game out of finishing a worksheet before the timer counts down or add star stickers to a calendar every time your kid reaches a goal. Try to have a little fun with it, and some of the stress may melt away.
Remember, homework is intended to help you child learn, and learning involves making mistakes. Your kids aren’t always going to get it right the first time – and that’s okay! You can foster resilience by encouraging them to try again and keep trying until they figure it out.
In fact, research shows that kids should be given many opportunities to redo problems if they don’t understand them the first time around. That teaches kids mistakes aren’t failures; they’re just chances to come up with different solutions. It also leads to academic success: Allowing kids to tackle a homework assignment multiple times has shown to benefit how well a child performs on a test.
In HelloJoey’s “Homework: From Hassle to Happy” kit, we look at homework from all the angles, incorporating the perspectives of students, teachers, parents, and experts. In it, you’ll learn:
the purpose of homework and what makes it effective
how school assignments can help your kid develop crucial skills
why the time and place where your child studies matter
how to keep yourself calm when you’re stressed about schoolwork
Want to learn more about “Homework: From Hassle to Happy?” Start your path to a solid parenting foundation in just 10 minutes a day. Check out the HelloJoey app.