Twelve Tips for Taming the Homework Monster

It’s back to school time, and that means homework is being assigned, which changes the easy, carefree dynamics of summer.  For many families, this means a monster pops out of the cupboard, takes over your child, and roars loudly!  There’s no need to make homework a battle, even if your child turns into a monster.  Hey, maybe even you take on some monster-like qualities!

Before you get on your high horse or your high monster, keep in mind that research indicates homework is not even beneficial for students until they reach high school.  My message?  There are many more important things than homework in a child’s life, so it’s important to keep homework in perspective.  Three hours a night of homework is not how any child should spend precious free time, unless he wants to, of course.

Following is a list of helpful tip for helping your child succeed with nightly homework.

1.  Use a timer.  Tell your child that he needs to get a certain amount of work done in a certain amount of time.  Give more than enough time, and offer a reward when completed on time and a consequence, such as less television time, when not completed on time. 2.  Break down the amounts of work.  These kids often get overwhelmed just thinking about the amount of work that they have.  Cover up some of the work with a piece of blank paper, or just assign a few math problems at a time.  When done, give a quick reward and move on to the next shortened piece of work. 3.  For these learners, it is usually best to bite the bullet and just get homework done right after school.  Transitions, in general, are difficult for them, so if possible, give the student a quick break after school and then start on homework.  If a student with a learning difference gets a chance to get away and start playing or having fun, it is difficult to bring her back. 4.  Although your child might need breaks, this is often what makes homework last for hours.  Try to power through the homework if possible.  These kids are masters at inventing reasons for breaks, but it only makes the whole process drag out.  Of course, if the student is frustrated and needs a break, that is different, but try to keep breaks to a minimum, help the student to be done and then do something fun. 5.  Limit distractions.  Televisions, noises, siblings, etc. all draw the student’s attention away from homework. 6.  Play soothing classical background music.  This often helps these students concentrate. 7.  Talk to the teacher or school about making your child’s homework shorter. Often there are district guidelines that should be followed. 8.  Try to stay positive.  Don’t criticize your child if he is trying his best.  If her handwriting is messy, let it go until some interventions have been made to help the handwriting.

9.  Consider other schooling options if your child is having too much homework and the teacher or school is inflexible, especially if your child is young. 10.  Don’t get into a negative cycle with your child over homework.  Yes, the child needs to learn to do assignments but to be honest, homework isn’t that important, and children rarely learn much from it.  Refrain from criticizing or other negative behaviors about homework, and be firm about your child’s behavior as well. 11. Don’t go into lengthy explanations or try to be a teacher concerning homework.  Just give brief explanations.  If your child doesn’t know how to do the homework, send a note or call the teacher or school the next day.  Homework should not be given that the child cannot do independently. 12.  Work toward independence.  Set a timer.  Walk away for two minutes.  Come back and check.  Too many parents are emotionally involved in the homework process and the student never learns to do the work himself because he knows that his mom or dad will stand over him and make sure he gets it done.

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