Adventures in Homework Part 1: 3 Foundational Building Blocks
One topic that frequently arises when I talk with parents is the nightly homework battle. I hear reports of kids “shutting down”, arguments, hours of labor, and tears.
A common refrain is, “What can we do to make this time go better?”
This post is the first of three addressing this question. Remember, each situation is unique, so no single solution will work in every situation, but the following are some factors to consider as you seek to build a strong foundation for homework time.
Where your child does their homework is important. Ideally, for younger children, the work is done in a public area of the house so that parents can monitor it. Teens may prefer to work in their bedroom, but work should be done at a desk or table, not on their bed. That said, allow students the flexibility to sit or stand, or a combination, when working. This is particularly helpful for students who struggle with extra energy or need help attending.
Everyone has trouble thinking deeply if they are frequently distracted by sounds, visuals, or activities around them. For some kids, this will mean removing as many of these distractions as possible. For others, it may help to have white noise or instrumental music in the background.
#3: Maintain a Set Homework Time
While it can be tempting to get homework out of the way by encouraging kids to finish their homework right when they return home from school, the reality is that most children need a break. And to be honest, adults do too after a long day at work!
Having children take a healthy break by playing outdoors, reading a book, playing a board game or doing crafts goes a long way towards recharging their emotional and mental energy and preparing them for the evening homework time.
Then, having a consistent time to complete work, like right before or after supper, helps children anticipate the work time so that parents have less resistance.
Also, consider alternative work times. Sometimes children have a long bus ride home where they can get some work finished. In addition, as children get older, they often have a study hall during the school day. This, also, is a great time for them to work hard and complete as much homework as possible. Study halls offer the additional benefit of being able to ask a teacher questions about the assignment they are completing.
Putting these practices in place can set a strong foundation for homework success by setting the right atmosphere and helping students have a mindset for homework completion. In our next blog in this series, we will cover tips to help students effectively engage in academic content during their work time.
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Beth Harmon, S.Psy.S. is a School Psychologist at All Belong.