For parents arguing nightly with their children over doing homework, the idea of a fresh start to the year is an exceedingly appealing one. As a primary grade educator I have worked with parents and students to come up with solutions to this exhausting cycle. Here are some general practices, that when implemented, can aid many situations and help bring peace to the household in time for 2012.
1. Know Your Child’s Academic Ability
Above all when analyzing the root of the tears and tantrums, it is important to first look at what is asked of your child and if you feel she is struggling with understanding the concepts and skills. If there is concern of a possible learning disability or need for a tutor, have a discussion with the teacher or learning specialist at school to set up a plan of action for help.
2. Create a Routine
As an elementary teacher I learned how necessary routine is in a classroom. When a daily schedule is mapped out there is no anxiety or chaos around what to do and when to do it. This applies to homework time as well. Having your child work in a public space in the house, like the kitchen, allows you to monitor her progress and be there when she has questions. Make it the same time, the same place everyday.
Give her the tools to be a successful, independent student by showing her how to organize homework assignments on a calendar or in a planner. Make it part of the routine you do together. Your child can learn to manage her time effectively and not panic about doing a project last minute. “Break down bigger projects into smaller pieces and help her avoid procrastination- this is the biggest culprit of tears,” says Keely Rollings, Clinical Psychologist and mother of three, “small goals make an easier time and no tears!”
4. Create Expectations and Stick to It
It is so easy to make exceptions to the rules you have set, but unfortunately this says to your child the rules can be broken. Let her know in very clear terms what the expectations are during homework time and enforce them. For example, “all homework must be finished before you can play outside with your friends.” It may be difficult to uphold the expectations, but it is far more painful to deal with negotiations and arguing when she pleads to bend the rules.
While these tips may not solve every homework issue between parents and children, they are realistic strategies to implement into a daily schedule and can be done so in time to start the New Year off on the right foot. Remember, the more independent and self sufficient your child becomes by learning how to use these tools and routines, the more pride and ownership she will take in her work, which ultimately is the best lesson of all.