Does this homework scenario sound familiar?
Your kids get home from school tired and hungry. They want a snack and time to play outside or watch TV. You agree, after all they have had a long day. When it comes time for homework, your kids whine and complain. You let them relax a little while longer, not wanting to fight. By then it is time for dinner, and homework becomes an after-thought. You’re lucky if you can convince your kids to do a few problems before bed, or, even worse, in the morning! Maybe you have time to glance over it quickly, and then homework is stuffed into backpacks on the way out the door.
Homework is here to stay
While there is much debate currently going on in education about whether or not homework is beneficial for elementary students, the fact is that most schools are still assigning at least 15-30 minutes of homework each night. One way to avoid the epic homework battle is to set a homework routine.
Students thrive off of a predictable environment. They like to know what to expect. By setting a homework routine, not only are you avoiding the daily arguments, but also teaching your children effective time management and organization skills and the importance of task follow-through.
Steps to Establishing an Effective Homework Routine
Use a calendar or agenda book
Many school districts provide calendars or agenda books for their students, but if not, I would suggest purchasing one and teaching your kids how to use it. Not only will this help keep them organized, but it will also teach them how to be responsible for their own work. This is especially true for upper elementary students and beyond. Communicate with your child’s teacher about the homework expectations and ask her to reinforce the use of an agenda book at school.
Find a quiet, but structured space with limited distractions
A good homework space could be at the kitchen table or a desk. I would avoid areas such as the couch or in bed, as students will focus better in an upright position. Make sure the TV is off and there are no electronic devices or other distractions nearby.
Set a consistent homework time
For some kids, this may be as soon as they get home from school. For others, it may be after a snack and 30 minutes of downtime. Whatever time you decide on, the important thing is to be consistent.
Let your child try on their own before you step in to help
In an article from Psychology Today, Establishing Healthy Homework Routines, Dr. Shimi Kang describes three types of parenting styles: the permissive jellyfish parent, the authoritarian tiger parent, and the authoritative dolphin parent. When it comes to homework, try to be the balanced dolphin parent that “uses role modeling and guiding to teach behaviors.” Let your child try the homework on their own, and if they do get stuck, show them how to break the problem into steps instead of solving it for them.
As with all new routines, the most important part is to be consistent. It may be a challenge at first, but within a few weeks your child will be used to it. They will know exactly what to expect when they get home from school. You will avoid the daily arguments, and homework time may just become one of the best parts of the day for you and your child.