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Doing homework doesn’t have to be a chore: 5 ways parents can help their kids

Stop dreading your child's homework with these tips

While parents may welcome the back-to-school season because of the structure it brings, many dread the other component of the return to school; homework. If homework causes tears, arguments, stress, and even anxiety in your house, you aren’t alone. In 2014, a study released by the National Center for Families Learning reported that 60 percent of parents struggle with homework issues every school year.

There are many reasons why doing homework has become a despised chore. After a long day of school, the last thing kids want to do are homework assignments. Kids and teens have packed after-school schedules and completing homework assignments cuts into that time. Whether you are pro homework or anti-homework, the simple fact is homework is an important element of the academic year. Homework assignments do have to be completed and do have a purpose. So, how can you stop the homework drama after school?

Young child doing homework
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Tips for helping homework get done

As a parent, it’s vital to remember there are pluses to homework. Homework teaches kids responsibility, time management, and reinforces concepts taught in school. It also works to instill good study habits for when the kiddos head off to college. Regardless of how bothersome homework may seem when you’re rushing out the door to soccer practice, it does help build a foundation for when kids are older and managing their schoolwork on their own. With these simple tips, parents can help their kids get the homework finished without having it feel like a dreaded chore.

Be positive

It’s important to show some positivity when it comes to homework. If parents have a sour attitude about homework, children will too. The first step to taking the drama out of homework is showing kids it’s not such a bad thing. Set the positive homework tone with children fairly early in the educational ladder. If your children are older, it’s not too late. Start off the school year embracing homework with a smile and an encouraging attitude.

Set a time for homework

Having a consistent time for doing homework is critical. Letting kids do homework on the run, in the car, or at the breakfast table in the morning shows the assignment is just something to get done. Instead, set a certain time period each afternoon or early evening for completing homework and stick to it. Since kids do have busy schedules, allow flexibility when making a schedule for homework. If your kids are active, the time might be different each day. Younger kids may have an earlier homework time than tweens and teens. Get kids’ input on when the best time to do homework is for them but avoid arguing about it once the time is established. Keep in mind the time may need to be adjusted at different times of the school year because of sports or other seasonal activities.

Designate a space

The kitchen with all its distractions may not be the best place for homework. Set up a spot for each child to complete his or her homework. Separating the kids will help them stay focused. Having their own homework space also helps kids to be more organized.

Homework supplies

It’s hard to get a homework assignment done without the tools. Before school starts, make up a homework basket for each child with necessary supplies like pens, pencils, loose-leaf paper, and a calculator.

Keep a homework calendar

Many schools require kids to keep a homework planner where they list their daily and long-term assignments. Keeping track of assignments eliminates those mad dashes to print out that English essay when the printer is out of ink or running around last minute for a show and tell item. Having and using a homework planner holds kids accountable for their homework and works to teach organizational and time management skills. If you ask a child if there’s homework and the response is no, check if there’s a test or quiz coming up. Study habits are learned and not always taught in school. Showing your child how to sit down and prepare for an upcoming test or quiz in advance sets a strong foundation for high school and college. On days when there isn’t homework, teach kids to use that homework time to study or work on upcoming reports and projects.

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Other tips for doing homework

Now that you have a set time, space, homework supplies, and a calendar, keep these other suggestions in mind.

  • Never do your child’s homework. Completing your child’s homework just to get it done is never a good idea and sends kids the wrong message.
  • Be sure to monitor your child’s homework time to ensure the work is getting done.
  • Avoid offering rewards for completing homework. Doing so also gives children the wrong impression. Homework is something that needs to be done like going to school. Not doing homework has a negative trickledown effect in the classroom.
  • Turn off the devices. Unless a laptop or smartphone is needed for research or Google Classroom, kids shouldn’t be using electronics while doing homework.
Boy having trouble with homework
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When to ask for homework help

Primary and elementary school homework should never take a child hours to complete. If that’s happening, it is definitely time for a sit-down with the teacher. When kids hit middle and high school, homework may take longer because of multiple classes. Take note though if one or more subjects are causing an issue, and reach out to the teachers. Many teens stress out with homework and test preparation; if that’s occurring with your child, talk with his or her teachers.

Woman tutoring a middle-school student in library
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Is it time for a tutor?

A lot of homework battles happen because a child is frustrated and experiencing difficulty completing homework. When a child is struggling in class, the last thing he or she wants to do at home is more work. If your child is constantly fighting with you about doing homework, take a step back to try and find out why. Often times it’s because the subject matter is problematic. A tutor can be a huge help with homework when the child has trouble with certain subjects.

Working with a tutor can help take the frustration out of the subjects your child is struggling with. Tutors can help build confidence while improving test and study skills. If you are looking for a tutor, look for one who is not your child’s teacher. When it comes to tutors, a different voice is usually more productive. The same is true when it comes to parents. Kids respond better when homework help comes from an outside source.

teen doing homework at his desk
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A final note on homework

Doing homework doesn’t have to be a chore. Just like classwork, homework is a component of your child’s education. Don’t let homework become or continue to be a daily battle in your home. Be positive when it comes to doing homework. It’s never too late to set up a place for your child to do homework or put a time to do homework in place. Involving children in setting up a spot to complete homework and the time frame for doing it helps them to take ownership. Helping homework to get done doesn’t mean doing it. A parent should never do a child’s homework. If you have tried all the tips and your child is still fighting homework, talk to his or her teacher to try and find out why. Sometimes working with a tutor on one or more subjects can make a difference. Make this the school year that everyone stops dreading homework.

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Dawn Miller
Dawn Miller began her professional life as an elementary school teacher before returning to her first love, writing. In…
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