In our last "Organizing for Success" blog, we tackled ways to set up your spaces to help ease your child's anxieties and conquer their day. Another way to organize for success in your home is by creating a predictable and positive homework experience. If your child has ever had homework anxiety or even a meltdown, you know how frustrating it can be for everyone. Below are 6 ways to design a homework routine and system that can help with this daily task.
1. Set Up a Routine
The first step to developing a homework plan is setting up a daily routine. Having a routine offers predictability and structure. Your child will know the plan and expectations ahead of time, which can be a proactive approach to ward off anxiety. Questions to think about when establishing your child's homework routine are:
- Will my child do better if they start on homework right away, or if they begin after a snack or movement break?
- Should they work on subjects/tasks in a certain order (Ex: shortest to longest)?
- Will we have a check-in system for accountability when homework is complete?
- Would my child benefit from checklists or timers?
Choosing a location where your child can be productive is also part of the plan to make your homework lives easier. You will want to make sure the location is a place which can be easily monitored, has limited distractions, and is stocked with necessary materials. We suggest a caddy of school supplies to have on hand if you think the location might change. If you have multiple children working on homework at the same time, you'll need to decide if they can work together or if they will need separate locations.
3. Know when To Stop
As many of us know, homework can be a time of great frustration and even tears as a result of a myriad of reasons. Many teachers will tell you: if your child is to the point of tears and a breakdown and/or the homework assignment is taking way longer than it should, just stop. When frustrations boil over, there's typically a reason for it. Let the teacher know your child was unable to complete the assignment within a reasonable amount of time or became overly emotional. This will let the teacher know that your child is not understanding the content and might need reteaching and support. If homework becomes like this every night, there might be a bigger issue at play. Talk to your child's teacher about possible tutoring or other interventions.
4. Build Independence and Ownership
Ideally you want to get your child to the point where they are tackling their homework with little to no prompting. For some this may take longer than others. Remember, all children develop at their own pace. Once you have a routine established and your child feels fairly comfortable with it, scale back on reminders and check-ins little by little.
Independence on homework assignments is also beneficial to your child's teacher. While many of us have the urge to help and correct, this is actually not as helpful as you might think. Homework is a useful tool in assessing if a child is understanding the classwork on their own, after instruction has been delivered. Teachers will examine homework for misconceptions and use this knowledge to drive their upcoming instruction. Consistently helping with homework tasks might give your child's teacher the false impression that your child is comprehending and applying the content on their own.
In addition to communicating struggles with your child's teacher, make sure to check-in about homework and assignments at your conferences or via an occasional email. Things you might want to bring up can include:
- Let the teacher know if the homework is too hard or taking too long
- Make sure all assignments are being completed and turned in
- Ask where homework and projects can be found (agenda, Google Classroom, etc.)
- Determine what is the best way to support your child with homework
Don't Be Afraid to Seek Help
Sometimes a child might need more support to complete homework and other assignments. Tutors and executive function coaches can be key to offering remedial help, organizational expertise, and study skills development. If this is something you think might benefit your family, reach out to us for more information!