Managing Homework Struggles
Posted on August 23 2016
Homework is the most common issue for many families and a huge frustration for many teachers. It may be one of the things that your child hates most about school.
We all know that homework can be a nightmare and make the evening a living hell. When your child has a huge mountain of homework every night, it maybe because they are unable to finish their work in school added with the extra practice work given by the teacher. In other words, your child is doing homework plus a day's worth work, all after a tiring day in the evening. In such a scenario you would cry too! Remember what you feel is less work, might be way too much to handle for your child since he is yet in the learning stage. Thus it is important that you view it from your child’s perspective than your own.
The list of excuses can seem endless:
“I don’t have any homework today.”
“My teacher never looks at my homework anyway.”
“That assignment was optional.”
“I did it at school.”
If only your child could be that creative with their actual homework, getting good grades would be no problem!
We are well experienced with the fact that trying to convince your child that grades are important can be a losing battle.
You can’t make your child take to school as seriously as you do; the truth is, they don’t typically think that way.
Remember, it’s not that they aren’t motivated, it’s that they’re motivated to do what they want to do. In order to get your child to do their homework, you have to focus on the behaviour aspect and not their motivation. So instead of giving them a lecture, focus on their behaviour and their homework skills. Let them know that completing homework and getting passing grades are not optional.
8 Smart Tips To Deal With Homework Struggles
Work along with your child
We are all well aware of the concept of imitation. Thus it is important that you do your homework along with the child doing his work. This gives the child a companion and keeps him away from boredom. While your child sits around, you could also try asking him/her to explain about the problem/subject. This would help your child to figure out the solution themselves and also build their self-confidence.
Let Him Take the Lead
Allow your child to decide when he/she wants to do their homework. This helps build a sense of responsibility and aids decision-making process in your child. Since the child decides the time he/she would have to abide by it and finish their work on time.
Use Positive Talk
When your child is very close to the answer but its just not coming out, say, “I know you don't have the answer/solution yet, but what can it be according to you?” This way you are not directly giving them the answer but you are helping your child to reach for it. Also if your child is very tired and not wanting to finish homework, first acknowledge what the child is feeling; for example say, “I understand you are tired.. would you be ok if I sit beside you while you finish your homework and I finish mine.” Thus you would be able to spend some time with your child and also get his/her homework completed.
Using an open environment
It is very important to monitor your child’s homework, especially if you are a working parent. Try and have your child to finish his/her homework in an open space; eg. living room or the kitchen or a centre point where you could easily check on him. Inform them that in case they need help they could ask for it immediately.
Be frank and real
Don't be afraid to say, "I don't know how to do this, either. Let's look for some help." This shows your child that it's OK to not know the answer and to make mistakes. More importantly, it shows him how to find resources on his own.
Remember Your Goal
You are not just there to help your child when she/he is stuck but also to let your child know that you are there for them. Do not withhold the answer when your kid is getting frustrated because it may make her/him hate that subject or you for not helping. Remember your relation with your kid is most important.
Use Daily Rewards
Inform your child that if he/she completes their work, they would be rewarding for the same. For example, you might say, “Once you’ve completed your homework on time, you are free to use your electronics or see your friends.” On the other hand, be very clear of the consequences for refusing to study.
According to James Lehman, consequences should be short term.
You might say, “If you choose not to study during the scheduled time, you will lose your electronics for the night. Tomorrow, you’ll get another chance to use them.” The next day, your child gets to try again – observing her homework time and earning privileges. Don’t take away privileges for more than a day, as your child will have no incentive to do better the next time.
Skills + Practice = Success
Tying homework compliance with your child’s desires is all about helping your child learn the skills they need to live life successfully. All of us need to learn how to complete things we don’t want to do. We all have occasions where we have to follow a rule, even when we disagree with it. When you create mandatory, daily homework time, you help your child practice these skills. When you tie that homework time to daily, practical incentives, you encourage your child to succeed.
To conclude, be there with your child through this phase until he/she learns to take complete responsibility. Be patient and hang in there.
About The Expert
Namrata Jain is our Consulting Psychologist at Brainsmith. She has a Masters in Psychology from Mumbai University and has worked with children and adults to help them achieve a better state of mind by encouraging healthy mental and behavioural growth.