By Carey Creel Roper
School is back in session, and homework is once again part of the daily routine. Homework can turn into a battlefield of coercing, arguing, bargaining and frustration for parent and child. Applying a few of these ideas will hopefully help keep your home from turning into a powder keg.
First: Why does your child have homework? If you think your child is doing “busy work,” talk to the teacher. Be your child’s advocate. Family time is much too important to spend hours on meaningless “fluff.” Homework should include the practice of new concepts, nightly reading, 5-10 minutes of drilling math facts and studying for upcoming quizzes and tests. Countless hours and huge amounts of money should not be spent on mindless projects that parents often end up finishing in the end.
Second: Allow your child to take a break after school. Adults don’t leave work and arrive home with their boss standing at the door with another hour or two of work to complete. Let your child ride a bike, have a snack, and enjoy some down time. This break is necessary for your child and will help with their attitude when it does come time for homework.
Third: A structured routine and work area is one of the most important aspects in achieving homework success. Most students require a quiet, well-lit environment to complete their work. Have a set time every day when homework begins and ends. Place needed items close by such as: sharpened pencils, scratch paper, ruler, dictionary, etc. If you think the amount of assigned homework is too much or too difficult, due to a disability or other circumstances, let the teacher know. Keep in mind your child’s teacher is instructing your child several hours a day and is able to see exactly what they can accomplish under their close direction in class.
Fourth: Once a set time and routine is established, stick to it! Teach them to self-govern. Parents, this is not your homework. Don’t hover and help with every problem. I assure you, your child’s teacher is not standing over their shoulder every minute in class. Busy yourself with preparing dinner or read a book near by. If they get stuck, give suggestions, not answers. “Have you tried this? What do you think the question is asking?” Allow them to use their minds and process through to the end. This is where true learning takes place. If your child is still confused, assist them and walk away. If you help too much at home, your child will be unable to master these concepts at school.
Fifth: Let them face the consequences. You don’t want to be dealing with homework all night and neither does your child. When the allotted homework time is up, have them close the books and clear the table. If they chose to procrastinate and mess around, let them inform their teachers. Do not call the teacher, write a note and make excuses for their incomplete work. Trust me, “The dog ate my homework,” doesn’t work as well as it used to. If your child refuses to do homework, encourage the teacher to take privileges away at school (recess, field trips, movie day, etc.) and do the same at home (tv, video/computer games, phone, etc). Your child will quickly learn the value of time management.
Carey Creel Roper is a regular contributor to PGLV and is the Academic Director for Cumorah Academy in Las Vegas.