Homework Hassles

Helpful tips to get you through.

Homework hassles; it’s a problem that has been plaguing parents since the inception of school. Year after year, parents have brought their concerns to my classroom and have asked for advice. Although there is no panacea for eliminating homework hassles, there are some effective approaches that have been advised by many experts and are rather practical and helpful.

1. Allow the student to take ownership and responsibility for their homework.

Parents should not take over. Convey the importance of school and homework. Let your child know that this is something you and the family value. You are there as a support system, to monitor progress. Parents who take the responsibility and get that good grade for the child may be proud, but who has truly earned the “A?” Remember, homework teaches a child responsibility and the skills to work independently.

2. Become a homework coach.

Begin to help your child by deciding on a good homework routine. Where will it be done; at what time of the day? Children need a study area that is well lit and quiet; a place where siblings won’t disturb them. They need to schedule homework into their lives like other important activities. It is possiblee that the schedule needs to be revised because things do come up— sports, outside classes, even relatives or guests staying over for awhile. Changes in the house can occur and may alter the original time and location. Simply pick the time with care. Remember, don’t nag. A brief reminder is all that is required. Just monitor homework so you know what they have completed and check for any teacher comments.

3. Become a guide, not the co-worker.

This does not mean that you have to take a totally hands-off approach. Just remember to keep your involvement to a minimum. Talk over the assignments and provide guidance by:

  • checking over completed work.
  • discussing ideas.
  • demonstrating examples to problems.
  • helping with directions.
  • formulating a schedule for long range assignments such as book reports and projects, into smaller workable parts. A monthly calendar can help.

4. Provide an emergency homework kit.

To avoid any last minute “parent” stress, keep a handy homework kit available containing routine supplies. This will keep you from rushing out to the store at the last minute. Here are suggestions for filling your “kit” with goodies:

Pencils, erasers, pens, writing paper, construction paper, ruler, colored pencils, crayons, rubber bands, markers, a children’s dictionary, glue, scotch tape and stapler. These items are age-appropriate for younger elementary age students. You will need to modify your kit according to the age of your child.

5. Consider your child’s learning style.

Not everyone learns the same way, and your child is no different. Though this is not easy, take time to observe. Does your child get more work done with someone else around? For example, he or she may enjoy working with you nearby as you do work or read. Does your child need to visually see things to understand or does your child understand hearing “the directions” better than reading them?

6. Give praise; it’s a great motivator!

  • Let your child know that you have recognized his effort to work hard.
  • Praise your child in front of others, such as a grandparent, for his “great job” on homework.
  • Make sure both parents are doing the praising.
  • Be sure your criticism is constructive and specific. For example: “Your spelling homework is so neat, I can tell you really tried to use your best handwriting.”

Hope these tips are helpful and that you find that homework doesn’t have to be a hassle!