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Avoiding the homework struggle

Avoiding the homework struggle

The start of a new school year is exciting for many. Kids get to see their friends again. New school supplies, new teachers, maybe some new clothes come along for that first day.

Some families appreciate the routine of school days. On the flip side, school also brings some stress. Deadlines and time dedicated to activities dictate everyone’s schedule. And let’s not forget the biggest stress of school – homework.

Kids dread it. Some simply avoid it. Parents try to stay on top of it. Our best intentions to make homework a positive learning experience go to the wayside quickly after the third “Have you finished your homework yet?” The power struggle soon begins.

Here are some ways you can work through (and eventually maybe even avoid) the homework struggle.

Pick your battle

Kids will approach homework differently. Some will get it done right away. Others will procrastinate. A few will even deny that an assignment was even given. Practice the art of patience.

Guide, ask, leave it alone. After long days at work, school or cleaning up after others, sharp responses aren’t helpful to anyone. Stop the parent-child power struggle. Depending on your child’s age, you will either need to guide them, check in on them, or ask once and leave it alone.

Be clear on expectations. What are your kid’s chores? Write them down. When will dinner be ready? Try to stick close to a schedule. Remember attention spans and moods can be driven by changes in blood sugar. When should kids start homework? Build it into your routine. Having a plan with clear expectations is a great first step. Enforce the plan clearly.

Bite your tongue. Pause when your voice starts to escalate. Sit back when your inner voice is screaming “just get it done!” Choose words kindly when critiquing their essay or reviewing their math lesson. Remember, they are learning and growing.

The homework train: let’s all get onboard

Kids want control. Homework is a requirement given by someone else. Where’s the control in that? If you find your child is resisting their homework, try these tricks to get your kids ‘on board’:

Stop nagging. The more you ask and get the answer “just a minute”, the more irritated you will become. Just stop asking. Consequences may be steep, but they will be remembered.

Learn with them. Sit down and learn the material with them. Ask them to explain the material. Review the assignment and decide what you would do. Kids need to learn how to study and how to handle stress. If they are willing, tell them your school struggles. Share how you learn.

Praise effort. Kids need encouragement. They want understanding. Acknowledge the time they have put in, even if the assignment isn’t done. Stick with your child until the assignment is complete.

Create a comfortable workspace. Having a designated space to finish homework helps them stay on task.

Enforce the consequence. Let’s face it. We all had to learn the hard way. Your kids may have to as well. If taking the cell phone away is necessary, do it. Allow Xbox or Playstation time only after homework is completed without resistance. Just like the working world, the core responsibilities come first. Be sure to model and enforce that behavior.

Acknowledge their achievements. Acknowledgement doesn’t have to equate to reward. We all want our parents to be proud of us. Pay attention to achievements.

Kids may not embrace homework wholeheartedly. But there are ways to dial down the struggles and live peacefully during the school year. Homework can take time out of our schedules, which can be unexpected. Take it in stride. Learn with them. In the long run, it is time well spent.

Image Copyright: ymgerman/123RF

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