Homework may be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be an endless source of tears and frustration.
You can prevent homework battles and set your child up for a lifetime of success by taking simple steps to develop great habits from the beginning.
Here’s How to Make Homework S.I.M.P.L.E.
SUPPORT YOUR CHILD WITH THE BASICS
- After school, offer a healthy (low sugar, protein/carb combo) snack for refueling. Cheese sticks and whole wheat crackers, a banana with peanut butter, smoothies, and sandwich meat rolled in a tortilla are some of our favorites.
- Allow 20-30 minutes of individualized “unwind time” before hitting the books. This can look different for each child. While Julie may escape to a quiet spot alone, Jake may race off to climb trees and shout at neighbors. When in doubt, look to their behavior to tell you what they need.
- Create a study environment that matches personal learning styles. Some kinesthetic (hands on) learners need a snack while they are working, some think better while chewing gum. Some kids work better alone in a quiet room, while others prefer listening to music in the busy kitchen. Play Goldilocks with different options until you get the right fit.
IDENTIFY THE WORK TO BE TACKLED
- Ask your child to read and explain each assignment to you.
- Are the directions clear?
- Did the necessary books and papers make it home?
- Does your child need help writing down and organizing assignments?
If there are too many missing pieces, a teacher conference may be just the remedy.
MOTIVATE WITH A NATURAL REWARD
Inspired by Love and Logic, here’s my go-to, empowering statement: “Feel free to (insert favorite after-school activity here) as soon as your homework is finished.” If an argument ensues, “I’ll be happy to discuss that after you do your homework,” can be helpful too.
Teach your child to prioritize multiple tasks by asking leading questions.
“Would you like to tackle the hardest subject first or warm up with an easier one?”
“This book report is too complicated to complete in one night. How can you break it down into smaller pieces?” Create a calendar with due dates and milestones and post in a prominent location (like the bathroom mirror) as a visual reminder.
LOVE YOUR CHILD ALWAYS, BUT REJECT INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
If study frustrations lead to a flaring temper, show empathy while setting clear boundaries.
“I can see how frustrated you are about that tough math problem. I’ll be glad to help you as soon as you lower your voice and sit back down.”
Invite them to walk around or sip on a glass of water to reset their mental state. One thing is guaranteed: little to no homework will get done until the brain willingly re-engages in the process.
Be genuine and praise specific behaviors. “Good Job!” is not nearly as encouraging as, “I noticed you kept trying even when that problem seemed impossible earlier. I’m proud of you for sticking with it and finishing the assignment!”
An ounce of prevention …
Taking time now to establish good habits and a positive attitude will pay off in buckets down the road. Just keep it SIMPLE.
Question: Do you have a favorite homework strategy? We’d love to hear about it! You can leave a comment by clicking here.