Does the thought of doing homework make your kids cringe? It can hit everyone in the family hard, especially when it’s still early in the school year. My son came home on the first day back, waving a sheet of paper in the air with an incredulous look on his face, “We got homework on the first day of school!” After a summer of awesomeness, homework can be a bitter pill to swallow and even moms and dads need to switch gears. When getting back into your new fall routine of afterschool activities, homework and other obligations, the best way to approach the often-dreaded subject of homework is to remember to give your family an adjustment period and set everyone up for success with the right tools and mind set.
Children crave routine and comfort, so make sure you have a consistent and organized spot for them to do homework. Many young children like to work at the dining room table or in the kitchen so they can be close to Mom and Dad for support and encouragement. To keep your sanity, have a homework caddy or station where they can stash all of their supplies nearby. Older kids may prefer to hole up in their bedroom to work and this is okay, too. Make sure they have an ergonomic workspace and are well stocked with supplies. Don’t forget to pop in once in a while to see how things are going and review their work.
Schedules and Breaks
Having a set time to do homework works best, so talk to your children to determine the optimal times to do it in. Many children prefer to do homework right when they get home and after a snack as this frees them up for some rest and relaxation in the evening. Kids with extracurriculars may be able to get some work in before their activities, but often need to study in the evening after dinner. Use a family organizer to slot in times for homework that work for each child on a particular day of the week. Don’t forget to give kids breaks as well – time to have a stretch, get some water, use the bathroom – especially if they have a heavier homework load or it’s early in the school year. Breaks will make the work more manageable and keep kids from getting disillusioned.
This isn’t something I’ve had to deal with personally as my children’s school believes the point of homework is not to have school work at home, but rather, when it is assigned, it’s meant to be an extension of what was learned during the school day. In my humble opinion, children should get the bulk of their learning from school, particularly grade school children. If you feel the same, set some limits and watch your child for signs of fatigue. And, if they are being sent home with large amounts of work every day, talk to their teachers to see if any adjustments can be made. Balance is important in life and children need to learn it from an early age so they don’t end up being over-worked, highly stressed adults!
This is an important one. Whether it’s a verbal reward, sticker, favourite treat or activity, keep it simple when praising your child. My son loves receiving approval from Mom and Dad, and simply telling him how proud we are of him is often enough. Big sister, on the other hand, is primarily motivated by treats! Try also star stickers and rewarding kids with breaks to do something they enjoy.
By Kristen Wint