When it comes to homework, there is a fine line between your child’s growing independence (letting him be responsible for his homework) and wanting to ensure the work gets done. Instilling proper homework habits will make after schoolwork easier for, both, you and your child. Encouraging your children to take responsibility requires patience and strategy.
The first thing a mom needs to do is set aside her own views about homework. Some of us wish our children had more. Others think homework is a waste of time. Research shows that homework has little impact on school achievement, yet many teachers continue to assign homework as practice or review of what was covered in class. Needless to say – it doesn’t matter what your view is, if your child’s teacher assigns it – you want to make sure your child completes it.
Second, as with everything else in parenthood, it is essential to establish a routine. This will include a designated space in your house where homework is completed. In our house, we turn our dining room table into a homework station during the week. A tray is placed in the center with pencils, pens, erasers, scissors, paper, and any other supplies that might be needed to complete schoolwork.
Time is as important to the routine as space. Some children need a break between school and homework. Others benefit more from getting their homework done right away. You may have to play around a bit to discover what works best for your child. In our house, we like to have a quick snack and then get homework out of the way. If your child participates in extra-curricular activities, you will have to consider her schedule before creating a homework routine.
Many children are unable to sit still for homework, causing a mom to wonder what happens during the school day. Most likely, your son is worn out from sitting still all day and paying attention during school. He may benefit from doing his homework in small chunks. Perhaps, one subject at a time with a break between will help him focus and complete his work. One of my sons focuses more easily when he is standing while doing his work.
Many of us dream about getting dinner ready or accomplishing other household tasks while our children are doing homework. For most of us, the reality is that our children will not sit at the table if we are not nearby. Furthermore, many of our children call us constantly to “help” them with difficult problems. In reality, they are just asking us to be their homework partner, and many of them may actually need us to sit at the table with them (at least in the beginning) while they are getting their work done.
If that’s the case in your house, plan on doing some reading, paying bills, or writing letters while you sit with your children. Do not engage in anything that cannot be interrupted. Arrange this time to be “work time” for everyone – including younger siblings who can work on coloring pages, build with Legos, or listen to music during this time.
Homework time can be frustrating. Seek guidance from your child’s teacher who may have valuable advice to share on how to help your child be successful. Remember, your goal is to teach your child the proper skills to complete and manage their homework. What works for you may not be what works for your child, but a consistent homework routine will help your child find his way to a rhythm that works for him.