Do you find yourself arguing with your child to get their homework done? Have you ever felt the annoyance of learning right before bedtime that your child has a project due the next day? The following 5 tips can be implemented easily at home to help your child develop strong study skills, nurture positive attitudes about school and learning, and create a peaceful, learning experience for both parents and kids.
Structure, Consistency, Routine
Develop a daily routine around homework. Ideally, homework should be done in the same place at the same time each day, or have a timetable where daily homework is scheduled into the day around your family activities. Structure, consistency and routine create a “safety blanket” and reduce stress when everyone knows exactly what the schedule looks like.
Create a Distraction Free Environment
Find at least 2 or 3 different spaces in your home that your child can do homework without distraction. The places you choose should be quiet, clean and free from interruption. Technology such as TV or phones should not be near the study area unless they are required for homework. The work surface should be clear of clutter with all of the necessary materials provided, such as pens, pencils, etc.
Rewards and Incentives
It can be difficult to motivate a child to do homework if they feel overwhelmed and bored with the homework activity. This is when it helps to implement a reward for completing homework each day. Encourage your child to reward him/herself rather than you rewarding them for homework completion. It is important they are accountable for their homework by choosing how to get it done, accepting consequences if it isn’t done, and also rewarding themselves for a job well done. This takes the pressure off parents because it teaches kids how to manage themselves.
It is difficult for kids to focus and attend to homework for long periods of time, especially after spending a full day at school. When sitting down to do homework, it is helpful if kids know when they will be taking a break. Knowing this schedule ahead of time can also prevent kids from procrastinating. Breaks allow kids to regulate their brains and bodies to help prevent overwhelm. Breaks should be implemented every 20 minutes. If your children are younger (under the age of 9) then breaks every 10 minutes may be necessary. Breaks should always be physical in some way. Examples include: riding a bike, jumping on the trampoline, jumping jacks, going for a walk, running on the spot, push ups, dancing, etc. Note: Technology is not a good break activity because it doesn’t help the body or the brain regulate stress. Rather is “numbs” and allows one to phase out, rather than cope with overwhelm. Breaks should be timed and kids need to know how long the break will be so they are ready to get back to work.
Validate and Connect
You can’t teach them unless you reach them. If kids are feeling bored, frustrated, or overwhelmed with homework, they need to have their feelings validated. Validating feelings does not mean we give in to those feelings and let them get out of their work. Rather, it lets them know we empathize with them and understand where they are coming from. Empathy builds connection and helps with communication. This way, if your child needs your help, you have created a nurturing space that allows them to ask and receive your help. Diving into giving advice before connecting and empathizing is a recipe for stress. Examples of validating statements are: “ I hear you”, “I remember feeling that way when…..”
Are you interested in more tips to support your child academically, emotionally and socially? Check back regularly for more information about how to support your child. Looking for information on a certain topic? Please contact us and let us know.
By: Stacey Adelman M.Ed. R. Psych. #807