Is your family struggling to balance a hectic daily routine that includes an overwhelming amount of homework? Mighty Mommy is right there with you. Here are five tips to help kids keep homework under control so your family can enjoy less stress and more fun.
Tip # 3: Teach Kids Time-Management Skills
With the extremely full schedules that kids today carry thanks to after-school activities, sports, clubs, and jobs—not to mention homework loads, time-management and organizational skills are imperative for them to keep their heads above water.
If your school doesn't provide a homework planner, invest in one of your own. At the beginning of each school week, sit down with your child and review what was assigned. Our schools post nearly everything on the school website, so I visit that frequently if I have any questions or if one of my kids seems confused about a particular assignment.
Realistically help your child figure out an estimated amount of time per subject needed each night for homework. It will take a few weeks for you and your child to have a good feel for how long assignments take, but if you know your child excels in English but struggles in math, make sure you set aside more time for the math work each night. Let your child have input with this since he or she ideally knows what comes easy and what doesn't. We have our children tackle the harder subjects first so that they can get those out of the way. We also find that they have more focus at the beginning of the night, so doing the more difficult subjects and assignments earlier in the evening reduces their stress levels.
Break up the work load each night by teaching your child that he or she doesn't have to work straight through when it's homework time. I love using our kitchen timer to delegate blocks of time per subject/assignment. Once the timer goes off, they take a break with a cold drink or just get up and play with the dog or do something like throw a ball around with one another, so they can burn off a little energy before getting back at it.
Tip #4: Plan Ahead for Big Projects
One of the biggest nightmares parents face is having their child announce that a huge school project is due the following day—one that was assigned over three weeks before and should've been in the works for days now. Sound familiar? The most important tool in avoiding this scenario is communication. You can't teach time-management skills to your child if you aren't in the "know" about big projects. Once your child enters middle school, it becomes more difficult to find out about class assignments and projects, so it becomes more important than ever to talk to your child on a regular basis about what's going on in their school world. Most schools have websites with helpful links that keep parents informed of classroom work, including due dates and timelines of expectations, but there are still many families that find it difficult to stay in the loop despite this information.
Get into the habit of checking with your child on a weekly basis about what they have going on in their subjects, particularly any big projects that are in the works. Once you have a handle on this, you can sit down with a calendar and map out the steps needed to complete the project in a timely manner and avoid a situation where she is cramming everything in at the last minute.
Several of my kids are visual learners and in order to stay organized and on top of their school assignments, they need their own calendars to plot out the time frame. I purchase large desktop calendars for them so they can have enough room to write out notes, strategies and deadlines for each of their subjects and larger projects. Having eight kids, I can tell you that this helps keep me from feeling overwhelmed when helping them.
Tip #5: Show Your Support
It's important to show your kids that you think homework is important.
It's important to show your kids that you think homework is important. There's no question that homework each night can become a burden, especially when parents have had long days keeping the household going or running home after a day at work and now dinner has to be made, pets need to be cared for, carpools need to be run on top of overseeing homework. If your kids see you acting frazzled about homework, they in turn will feel uptight as well. For kids with learning disabilities, it is even more difficult to help them stay on task without getting frustrated at the end of the day when all of you are tired. Set up guidelines as the parent for how involved you will be with homework
Be available for assistance and to help when needed, but establish early on that you will not be doing the homework for them.
Ask your child specific questions so that you know she understands the assignment and what is expected of her such as
- Do you understand the assignment?
- What help will you need to complete it on time?
- Do you have everything you need to complete the assignment?
Be in contact with your child’s teacher on a regular basis and do not wait until grades come out to discover there is a problem. If there is a difficulty with a particular subject, stay in contact with that teacher and work out a plan to assist him or her throughout the semester.
And don't forget: Encourage and praise your child when you see him working hard. One of my sons struggles with reading. He would rather wash dishes than pick up a book and read. He does have a passion for building things, however, so last year we coaxed him into reading magazines and books that had projects with directions. That was the start of some actual reading for pleasure. We made a big deal out of how great it was to see him reading the building magazines, and it really pumped him up and increased his self-esteem.
How do you manage homework in your household.? Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
Mother and daughter using digital tablet for homework and mother daughter reading images courtesy of Shutterstock