Jan-31-2013

Tips to Handle the Homework Hassles

Psychologist's tips to help kids and parents handle homework hassles

Parents should model a positive attitude about homework

Homework is one of those routines that is often met with trepidation and dread, and not just by children and teens, but also by their parents. Because homework is an inevitable part of school, it is important to attend to this important ritual with confidence and optimism.

There are a few ways to make homework time less of a hassle and more of the positive, educational experience it was designed to be:

  • Remember that homework is generally intended to reinforce and practice what has been introduced during the school day.  Help your child have a positive attitude toward the work by you yourself also having a positive attitude.
  • Be available to help, but don’t do the work for your child.  The teacher is interested in knowing what your child knows and is not interested in testing your skills. You can help with developing a plan, providing organizational assistance or answering questions. You can check homework, but be sure to know the teacher’s policies about parental follow-up.  Allow independence with supervision.
  • Provide the space, materials, and scheduled time to allow homework to be accomplished comfortably. Investment in a good structure, consistency and regular routines will be well worth the effort.  Minimize media distractions.
  • Let your child have a break from homework if necessary. A snack or a bike ride around the block can help re-energize a child.  Be flexible.  Minimize burn-out.
  • Allow your child to face consequences of delayed or incomplete homework. Some children need to experience their own disappointments before they are ready to accept assistance or accept proactive problem-solving for the future.
  • Keep any frustrations you may have with the teacher or the specific assignments away from your child.  Use appropriate means of communication with the teacher to share concerns or questions. If you respect the teaching process, your child is more likely to respect the learning process.
  • Emphasize what the child has done correctly.  By focusing more on successes than failures, you will be more likely to motivate the child to do more work.  If you do more focus on the mistakes and the negatives, the child will be more easily discouraged and may feel less motivated to continue working.  Praise efforts.
  • Do not expect perfection. Remember that mistakes are not the enemy; mistakes are a part of learning and are opportunities for new awareness.  Love need not be based on success in school.  Practice patience and empathy.
  • Model an avid interest in learning, education and general interest in the world.  If your child sees you reading or problem solving or actively seeking out answers, they are more likely to follow your lead.  Be sure you are living out the priorities you expect in your child.
  • Get help from your child’s teacher, a tutor or a professional if homework issues have turned into severe homework struggles.
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