Getting back into the school routine means back into the routine of getting homework done. For some of us, it means back into struggles, fights, and meltdowns.
Here are some ways to help reduce the stress and make getting homework done more successfully.
- Make it part of a routine. If you don’t already have an after school and school night routine, now is the time to put one in place. All of us benefit from structure to our lives and kids do especially well when they know exactly what to expect. Some of our kids not only benefit from but really NEED that routine to function well. When you create your routine, keep these points in mind:
- Be realistic with your expectations
- Fit your own needs (and those of the whole family) into the routine
- Involve your child in planning the routine when appropriate
- Build in breaks for your child
- Use visuals to support the routine (visual timers and/or picture schedules, written checklists)
- Think outside the box. Homework doesn’t have to be done at the dining room table. Consider your child’s needs and preferences to choose a place or a variety of places to do homework. Offer a variety of seating options (chair, couch, floor, beanbag chair, swing, or ball-chair) that meet your child’s needs.
- Even better, put some play in the homework routine! Practice math facts while jumping on the trampoline, run an obstacle course writing spelling words at different stops, or do a treasure hunt to find definitions for vocabulary practice.
- Focus on what your child really needs to learn. If your child is struggling with task focus, make sure that you are accommodating and teaching how to extend focus. If you are trying to build independence and self-direction in learning, use checklists for your child to refer to. If your child is easily frustrated with mistakes, take the time to teach resilience and persistence. Sometimes completing the homework isn’t as important as the skills gained from the effort of trying.
If your child balks at doing homework and you find yourself engaged in power struggles most evenings, ask yourself “What does my child need to succeed?” Providing your child with the right support makes all the difference.
What’s more, understanding your child’s needs and responding in kind will help you structure homework so it is the “just right challenge” that motivates your child while challenging just enough to be successful without the frustration.