Are You Facing Off In The Homework Battle?
The school year is wrapping up and it’s the final push for completing classwork, end-of-year class projects and making the grade. If you find that your child is struggling to keep momentum for these final few weeks, or has intermittently struggled throughout the year, here is a reminder of my most helpful school tips to win the homework battle!
What Leads to Homework Success
Kids are most successful in school when their parents take an active interest in their homework. Think of yourself as a coach and a cheerleader, rather than a micro-manager. The goal is to provide just enough guidance and support that your child needs to succeed. Then you can reduce the support incrementally until they are able to complete work on their own (this is called scaffolding).
What this might look like:
- Sitting together at the table, reviewing their agenda, gathering supplies, monitoring work and providing feedback, helping with studying, reviewing returned schoolwork and tests, packing up bag.
- Sitting at table to review agenda, monitoring work in the kitchen while taking care of other responsibilities (cooking dinner, assisting other children, etc.), providing feedback, reviewing grades and returned tests to help with self-monitoring, helping with studying (working towards independent studying with parent quizzing to ensure studying effectively), reminders to pack bag.
- Asking your child about the day’s homework assignments and long-term projects, reviewing grades and assignments to help with self-monitoring, providing scaffolding support as needed.
- reviewing grades and assignments, working with your child to troubleshoot and providing scaffolding support as needed.
Know the teachers and what they are looking for
be familiar with class materials, homework policies and expectations. Communicate with the teachers early if you are noticing struggles.
Establish a consistent routine
set up a regular study time (the earlier in the day, the better), a consistent location, and a plan for assignments and questions.
This means no tv, loud music, phone calls, or social media (THIS MEANS YOU TOO IF YOU ARE HELPING WITH SCHOOLWORK)
Do homework early
Give your child a time frame (say 3:00-5:00) to begin homework so that you are in a better position to finish work before evening activities.
Designate a “study buddy”
have one or two classmates’ information on hand for if/when your child forgets their assignment or book materials. A simple photo text of materials or assignment requirements can allow your child to remain caught up on assignments.
Notice how your child learns
Are they an auditory learner? Do they need hands-on experience? Is it better for them to look at charts/graphs or to read text? Does physical movement or music (putting information into song) help them remember concepts? Remember that your way of retaining information may be different than your child’s. You can also ask your child’s teacher what they notice in your child’s learning style (since the teachers will be using several modalities to teach information).
Point out what your child is doing successfully and ask for their input into what is working. Keep a list of “homework strategies.” A list of “frequently asked” homework questions, resources and reminders of what to do when they get stuck. Remind them of their successes. Provide positive, specific feedback. Remember the “rule of 5”: 5 positives for 1 negative. This helps to keep up positive regard for self and limits a defeatist mindset.
Set a good example
Let your kids see you doing grown-up homework. Making grocery lists, meal planning, creating budgets, paying bills, etc. Verbalize the steps you take, how you handle your frustrations, and how you troubleshoot.
Focus on what motivates your child
(think in terms of novelty, competition, urgency, interest and/or humor). Incorporate these into homework. For example, change where your child is doing their work (shift to a different room in the house, or head to the library). Place a wager on how long an assignment or task will take to complete. Come up with silly sentences for spelling words.
Provide short-term, immediate rewards
Remember the immediacy principle: A low-value immediate reward will outweigh a high-value long-term award. A dollar each day or 15 minutes extra computer time after homework completion is a better motivator than $50 at the end of the semester.
In The Middle Of A Melt Down
Stay Calm, despite your child’s frustrations
Pause for a moment and gauge your own reaction to your child’s stressor. If your emotions are elevated, chances are your child’s emotions will feel more elevated as well. The good news is the opposite is also true. Take a few deep breaths, slow down your talking and adopt a calm and soothing tone with your child.
Take a break
Kids often work better in short bursts with breaks in between. Research shows that kids and adults are most effective in 25-minute blocks. You can break things up by adding movement, moving between assignments, and adapting modalities. Break tasks and assignments into smaller parts and allow your child to check them off at completion.
Let your child vent. Once your child feels understood, you will be in a better position to understand the roadblocks and support your child needs.
Include them in problem-solving his or her homework struggles. Ask open-ended questions. Is there something you can do immediately or do you need a longer-term solution plan? Do you need to contact the teacher? Address eating or sleeping routines? Do they need a tutor? Homework structuring or organizational support? Are they overscheduled?
Collaborate with the teacher or another professional
If your child is working diligently but is unable to complete the work, consider meeting with the teacher to modify the workload or with a professional to determine if there is a learning disability or executive functioning deficit present. Hire a professional to help explicitly teach the skills that your child needs to be successful.