Stop arguing about homework, do this instead

Whether your child is seven years old or 17, you can use the below techniques to ease the tension and stress around homework. Keep reading to learn how to set clear, after-school expectations and help your child create a successful homework routine without bribing, arguing, or babysitting.

Challenging authority

Children act out when they are told what to do, especially if what they’re told to do is “boring” or “difficult” — two words we hear a lot when students describe their homework. Chances are, your child knows exactly what they want to do when they get home from a long day of school (and it’s probably not long-division).

The process outlined below should take about 15 minutes and save you and your child hours of time.

STEP 1: Ask your child to tell you what they need to do tonight and what they want to do tonight.

Right when they get home from school, let your child know you’d like to sit down for 15 minutes to chat about their plans for the rest of their day. Set a timer for 15 minutes and ask them to monitor the time. As they list their tasks and plans, write them down on a sheet of lined paper in a single column on the left-hand margin. Weigh their wants and needs equally, and assure them there is plenty of time for both!

Tip: Is your child not sure what was assigned? Most teachers ask students to fill out a daily agenda or update their class websites with an online agenda. If all else fails, your child can call a friend from class.

STEP 2: Ask your child how long they think each task will take them to complete, what obstacles he may encounter, and what materials he may need. 

Start a new column to the right of each task and write down your child’s best estimate of how long each task will take them. Thinking ahead to obstacles and materials will help your child plan ahead and anticipate any challenges before they start.

Tip: Most students will underestimate how long a task will take them. If your child tells you something will take five minutes, it will most likely take 15. If a task includes an obstacle, help your child think of solutions before they begin. Resist the urge to tell them what to do, and instead, ask the right questions that lead them to their own conclusions – even if you disagree.

STEP 3: Ask your child to assign a start and end time to each task. 

In a final column, help your child pick the order of the tasks they will complete. Assign a start and end time based on the estimated time required.

Tip: Don’t forget to schedule breaks before and between assignments. Taking a 30-minute breather after school will help your child de-stress. A 20-30 minute concentrated task can earn a five-minute break. This will help them improve focus when they works. 

By planning work and fun ahead of time, your child won’t feel like they have a never-ending pile of homework. They will work with a goal in mind and have something fun to look forward to once the work is done.

Keep in mind and make sure to discuss that planning and time-management are skills that take practice, patience, and perseverance. Don’t expect your child to adhere to this schedule perfectly, and let them know that they most likely will need to make adjustments along the way. The benefit of making this a daily routine is they get to learn from each attempt and get better and better as time moves forward.

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By Yulia Rafailova, Tutor Doctor

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