Making that transition from home life to school-aged child is both exciting and stressful. Of course, with that transition comes the one thing we all dread — homework. While some schools are starting to ban the concept of homework, most teachers still load up our little ones with plenty of extra work to do to ensure the ideas they’re learning stick tight to those malleable little minds. If your kids just want to come home and play or watch TV, homework can be a nightmare. Here are a few tips to help your little ones succeed — and help you keep your sanity — when you’re dealing with homework.
Take Some Time to Study
If you’ve been out of high school for at least 10 years, you escaped before Common Core became the norm — and it’s confusing AF. If you’re planning on helping your littles with their homework, it might be worth it to study up a little bit on the new way they’re teaching things like math. Otherwise, expect to hear a lot of “That’s not how they want us to do it!” from your children as you try to teach them the way you learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
Stick to a Schedule
If your child is going to have homework every night, scheduling it might make a bit easier to get them started. It might take a while — it can take anywhere from three weeks to nine months to form a habit, but by keeping them on the same homework schedule every night, you can start turning it into a habit. It doesn’t have to be as soon as they get home, either — give them 30 minutes to an hour to decompress from the school day, get a snack and blow off some steam before you start putting your collective noses to the homework grindstone.
Understand the Why
It’s a common question from children in nearly every situation — WHY? Why do I have to do this? Why do I have to eat my icky vegetables or brush my teeth or finish my homework? Don’t let the questions drive you nuts — it’s a big part of how children learn how to interact with the world around them. Understanding the why gives them a reason to motivate and to get things done.
This doesn’t just apply to children — even adults need a why before they’ll get something done. Why do I need to go to work? Because I have bills to pay and a career to build. Why do I need to go to the doctor? Because I need to stay healthy to take care of my family.
Why do I need to complete my homework? Because it helps you get good grades and helps reinforce the ideas you’re learning in school, so you don’t forget them.
Help them understand the why, and the rest will fall into place.
Take a Step Back
It’s tempting to want to hover over our kids to make sure they’re doing their homework, but all that is going to accomplish is stressing them out. Your kids won’t see it as mom or dad being here to help — they’ll see it as mom and dad hovering because you expect them to fail and you’ll have to swoop in to rescue them.
In the words of a famous video game king: Swooping is bad. Have confidence in your kids. Let them complete their homework on their own and only step in to help if they ask for it. That helps reinforce their self-confidence. There’s nothing better than watching how a child’s face lights up when they finally understand a concept that’s been challenging them for a while.
Reinforce the Positive
We all struggled with math, science or history at one point. When we were that age, it was all new to us, and it takes a while for new concepts to stick. Don’t focus on the things your kids are missing or what they don’t grasp quite yet. Instead, reinforce the positive. Congratulate them on mastering a new concept, spelling a new word or nailing an A on a quiz.
It’s important for more than just homework. Positive reinforcement affects a child’s overall behavior and can help with much more than just a child who doesn’t want to complete their homework. There are even some studies suggesting it can be beneficial for adults in the workplace.
If your school hasn’t banned homework quite yet, don’t let it worry you. Homework time doesn’t have to be a fight or a nightmare. Just reinforce the positive, set them on a homework schedule and make sure they understand why they need to do their homework. You may find they are already at the table and ready to work before you call time — after a while, anyway.