If you have a child in school, there’s a good chance you have had a battle or two over homework. I was surprised when my son first started school, and was bringing home pages and pages of worksheets to complete at home. He was just 5 years old… easily spending 30 minutes on homework.
I have heard plenty of parents complain about the amount of homework their kids come home with. Many teachers I know admit, there simply isn’t enough hours in the school day to teach and reiterate the skills students need to know.
According to the National Education Association, there is a method to the homework madness. They have a formula, 10 minutes of homework for each grade. So first graders should have about 10 minutes, second graders should get 20 minutes, and so on. That seems like a pretty fair amount, but I know firsthand that young kids often get more homework than that.
Since homework isn’t going away, we all need to find a way to deal with it. Fighting and arguing with my first grader over writing 5 spelling sentences isn’t how I like to spend my evenings, so I have figured out some ways to get through homework without tears. (from me or my child)
Set a time: Try to make it so your child does their homework at the same time each day. Maybe it is when they first get home from school, or after a snack and some playtime. Figure out what works best for your child. You need to establish a homework time so your child knows it is time to sit down and get that work done. That way, you will avoid any arguments over them wanting to do “one more thing..” before starting homework.
Make a “homework” spot: Teachers recommend students as young as first grade learn to do their homework on their own. Make sure your child has a clean, clutter-free space to do homework each night. This could be a desk in their room, or even at the kitchen table. Don’t sit next to them or hover while they do their work. Instead, just tell them to ask for help if they are having problems with something. If you find your child has trouble concentrating, look over what they have to do, then set a timer. For my son, who never stops daydreaming, I will give him 10 minutes to finish the front and back of a worksheet. I set my phone and will even give him a 2 minute warning. It helps to keep him on track.
Be Positive: Try to find some way to give your child positive reinforcement through the process. Say they finish their work in a timely manner, but then you realize some parts need to be done over. Make a point to compliment your child for finishing their homework on time and praise them for what they did right. Then you can say, “You did so awesome, but this part is not quite right, let’s look over it together and fix it.” Obviously, you wouldn’t be talking to a high schooler this way, but if you want younger kids to get used to homework, and not dread it, you have to keep it positive.
Offer Rewards: If your child does really well on their homework or gets special praise from their teacher about it, be sure to make a big deal. Maybe let them have a ‘treat’ after dinner or tell them they have earned extra TV time our outside time, or whatever is a perk in your household.
Obviously, these tips can be tailored to fit what works best in your house. Homework doesn’t have to be a battle. The key here is you are setting a homework routine. As long as you stick to the same plan every night then homework will become part of their day, just like getting dressed or brushing their teeth… and the arguments will fade away.
I wrote this post originally for SmartMom.co.