There are debates aplenty these days about whether homework is a good idea or if instead schoolwork should be done primarily during school hours.
For now, however, homework is a fixture of most schools, and so parents must develop strategies to help their children complete homework without it becoming a major point of household contention.
A recent installment of The Washington Post’s excellent parenting column lays out several strategies for taking the struggle out of homework.
“Kids procrastinate or shut down because they fail to see the relevance of a task, prefer other distractions, or struggle with comprehension, organization or motivation. And nagging isn't going to work,” says author Phyllis Fagell.
Here are some of Fagell’s strategies for helping kids approach homework “with more confidence and less conflict:”
Establish routines and discourage bad habits: This means creating an uncluttered, distraction-free workspace and making it easy for your child to work there during set times of the afternoon, evenings, and/or weekends. “One child might need to do his homework in the kitchen with a parent nearby, while another works best independently in her bedroom. Some kids reliably follow a planner, while others need checklists.”
Give kids options, but inspect what you expect: It’s a good idea to give kids say over when they do homework, or how they’ll approach a teacher when they’re having struggles. But, as the Cold War saying goes, “trust but verify.” If your child says she’s going to reach out to a teacher by a certain date, make it clear that if they fail to follow through, you will email the teacher the following day.
Introduce physical breaks: This is a very Compositive strategy. One shouldn’t expect a child or adolescent to sit still for extended periods of time without having a chance to engage his body as well as his mind. It’s often a good idea to have your kid get some exercise – a walk, a bike ride, or sports practice – before beginning a homework session. Drinking plenty of water is another good way to enhance concentration.
Identify role models to build grit: "Parents can ask kids to name people they admire, whether they are professional athletes or favorite writers. When the child wants to give up, ask what that role model would do," Fagell suggests.
Go easy on pressure: Too much pressure causes kids to push back, Fagell says, then quotes Ana Jovanovic, a psychologist and coach at the online tutoring service. "At an age when you're just starting to discover who you are, you're already being told who you need to be," Jovanovic says. "When the gap between who you want to be and who your parents need you to be is big, you start rebelling."