10 Smart Homework Tips To Avoid the Daily Battle (print and post on your fridge)
1. Decide on a homework spot.
This is like your child’s own office space. Allow her to give input so it helps her feel she has some control. Communal spaces tend to work well as long as the environment isn’t overly distracting.
2. Identify a recurring homework time.
Predictability leads to productivity because the little scientist in the brain stops “testing” to see if they can push the limits. If the same time-of-day (e.g. everyday at 4pm) is not possible due to extracurricular activities establish in advance when homework is done on a daily basis (e.g. Mondays at 4pm, Tuesdays at 7pm). It’s best to start early in the evening.
3. Post a homework schedule, start with “Review Together.”
Routine helps calm anxiety and frustration so map out what happens during homework time. I recommend including “Review Together” so you can help break it into manageable sections.
4. Establish a reward.
This can be a natural everyday reward that your child enjoys, such as screen time or playing outside. Once you review the amount of homework together ask, “What would you like to earn after all this (or a portion of this) is done?”
Electronics are extremely distracting and work against the parts of your child’s brain necessary for sustained attention, focus and problem solving. Designate one hour where everyone in the house is unplugged.
6. Be available to help.
Let’s face it, homework is stressful. Reassure your child, “I trust you can do this and I’m here to help if you need it.” (You need to be unplugged during this time too so your child gets this message from you nonverbally as well.)
7. Allow breaks.
Children who have focusing problems need sensory breaks to calm the stress that builds up in their brain. Breaks should be short (1-5 minutes), involve heavy movement (e.g. wall push-ups, trampoline jumping, pushing a heavy wagon), and be void of screens.
8. Avoid threats.
Stay away from “motivating” your child with, “If you don’t do ___, you won’t get ___.” Instead, encourage with positivity, say, “As soon as you finish ___, you earn ___.”
9. Provide clarity on what it means to be done.
Homework is not considered done until it is checked so build that into the schedule. This clear expectation makes a big difference in your child’s ability to hold it together.
10. Stay positive.
Homework is tough for children. It’s like the big reports you despise having to write at work, only every single day. Their brains are learning to focus, problem solve, and regulate mood, which only happens with practice. If you “lose it,” they will too so take a deep breath, avoid getting baited into a battle of negotiation, and let them know you’re there to help and you believe in them!