6 Ways to Help the Whole Family Survive Homework
Homework. Just writing the word bums me out.
Yes, even though I’m all grown up, I still feel like I have homework — because my KIDS do. And though homework loads are lessening, I still have days where my kids whine, complain, throw tantrums over their at-home assignments!
From trial and error (and lots of pain and suffering) in my years of motherhood, I’ve learned some tricks to (mostly) avoid these Category 5 homework meltdowns. These are things that have worked for my kids, and maybe, hopefully, they’ll work for yours.
Allow Some Down Time
Give Them Some Space
Make Sure They Have the Tools They Need
Timing is Everything
Some people are strict believers in having their kids do their homework as soon as they walk in the door. I’ve found that my kids are a lot less likely to start shouting, “I hate school!” if I give them an hour of decompression time when they first get home. I try to think of what most grown-ups like to do after a long day of work, and it’s NOT more work. As adults, we desperately need our down time, and it’s no different for kids.
So they eat a snack while they watch TV, play games on their devices, watch other people play video games on YouTube — whatever relaxes and rewards them after a long school day. After their hour is up, it’s time to get those backpacks out!
When my oldest was in first grade, I stood over him like a drill sergeant, micro-managing every assignment at night. It ended up stressing us both out, because I had plenty of other things I could be doing, and I couldn’t do the work for him. It was pointless for me to breathe down his neck, watching his every move, and it made him nervous.
Now I make sure each of my three boys has a quiet, separate space to work, and I let them do their homework on their own. If they have trouble figuring something out, I’m there to help them when they call.
My third-grade twins have spelling tests each week, so every Monday, they bring home a list of words to study. Word study started in first grade, and at first, I would just quiz them on the words every night; you know, like a spelling bee. That method produced a lot of whining, because it was “boring.”
So one day, I had a stroke of genius and started tossing a small spongy football back and forth with my son, Zach. Every time I gave him a new word, I would throw the football to him. He had to spell it, and then throw it back to me. With this tactic, Zach started to anticipate studying his words!
The last thing you want when your kids are finally motivated to do their homework is for them to have to search for the tools they need. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Like if they needed pencils, when they’d finally find pencils, they were too dull to use! Last year, I rounded up every pencil in the house. Then I purchased a battery-operated pencil sharpener, like this one for under $10, and went to work on all those pencils! I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to sharpen them. It’s the little therapeutic things, folks!
Now I have several drawers full of number two pencils at the ready, which has been a huge time-saver.
Every child is different, but I happen to have three children whose heads start spinning if they do homework after 6 p.m. Waiting until the evening to do homework has backfired on me enough times to know it’s not a good idea. Every family has different schedules and different patience thresholds, so if after-dinner homework isn’t working for you, consider having the kids do their homework while dinner is being made. Even if they get it half-done, it could take half the load off your shoulders at night.
So, as I mentioned before, my kids get an hour to decompress after school. But when it’s a sports night, all bets are off! They need to come home, do homework right away, get dressed and ready, eat an early dinner and head back out the door.
Because the schedule is so different, I warn them the night before, as well as the morning, that it’s going to be a sports night schedule. That way, their expectations are set, and even if they still aren’t happy about it, at least they know it’s coming.
Hey, at the end of the day, these won’t work for everyone’s kids. But hopefully, at least one of these tactics is bound to make homework easier on the whole family.