Seven Strategies For Homework Heaven

We’ve all been there ….. half an hour later he’s still sitting at the table, having done nothing but, well, probably day-dreaming, or, after one look at the task set, flies into a “I can’t do this” rage. The homework scenario seems to follow a regular pattern, which can be time-consuming, frustrating and tiring for all concerned, to the point that some parents dread it (not to mention their child), and, quite different from the ‘perfect parent’ who has his child completing homework straight after school, finds it convenient to put it off for as long as possible to avoid the conflict. No child or his parents want homework to be a daily torturous necessity, so how can we break out of the old habitual homework scenario and break into a new empowering and positive experience?

1. First and foremost, your child needs to know that you support him in a positive and powerful way. Whatever his mood or reaction to the task set, you, as parent, must remain calm and focussed in order to best help him to approach and complete the task. Two people getting hot under the collar will not help, and there may be times when it is useful to walk away from the situation for a while to cool down.

2. Set a time for doing homework that is suitable for both your child and yourself. This needs to be a time when you know you will not be interrupted and that you can devote your full attention to helping your child. Ideally this must not be a time when you know you will be itching to get something else done, or planning the night’s dinner in your head – you may not have the resources for patience and concentration. Some children cannot come home and straight away do their homework. They need to chill out after a day at school. Likewise, don’t leave homework till near to bedtime as tiredness will not help. Find a mutual time that you both agree on.

3. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework, and that he has all the materials such as paper, pens, ruler etc. Avoid places where there is noise and distraction, where people may be coming and going, and keep the TV turned off.

4. If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away. Too much parent involvement can prevent the teacher from getting a feel for how much of the subject your child has understood. Homework is also a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills, and to understand that they, and only they, are responsible for their life’s achievements.

5. If your child is having a complete mental block with a homework task, try to find what that block is so you can help him overcome it.
a. Sometimes it is good to find out what lessons your child likes best at school, and why. There may be some way in which that subject is taught that he finds more interesting and fun. You can then use that strategy in your own way when helping with homework.
b. Many children find it very difficult to learn through books and find it even harder to express themselves through pen and paper. Your child may be excellent at recalling information through speaking, but not through writing. You can help your child when you know this might be a block to his learning and approach to homework. If, for example, your child has an essay or story to write, but finds it difficult to express himself through writing, you could get him to dictate the story to you, with you recording it for him to copy into his school book afterwards.
c. Humour works every time. Whilst it is good to be committed to getting homework done, it is not good to be attached to the outcome. What’s important is that your child focuses, is productive, and enjoys the process, rather than a pressure to be perfect. Don’t take it too seriously. Be funny and do whatever you can to make the subject interesting and enjoyable for your child.

6. If you feel you are not progressing with a piece of homework, and however much you help, your child cannot grasp it, then leave it, don’t push him, but make sure his teacher is aware that he needs extra help. Do not do his homework for him, no matter how tempting. This will not help. His teacher can help only if he/she knows help is needed and is getting realistic feedback as to what your child is capable of. Good communication and a good relationship with his teacher is a primary way to helping your child at school.

7. If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

A parent’s positive, calm and supportive attitude to homework goes a long way to helping your child to approach homework in a powerful way. Setting a good example of focus not only helps with the particular task in hand, but helps your child to learn and develop skills that are valuable in all of life’s situations. Not only this, believe it or not, through your support with homework you can build a closer, more loving and respectful relationship with your child.