Homework. Let’s face it, as a parent, it can be one of our worst enemies.
Many of us have had the experience of an all-out battle with our child over getting homework done, and if you are like me you leave the battle feeling defeated, angry, and confused.
When we started first grade, we had many of these battles. It wasn’t that the homework was too hard/boring/long – it was just that after getting off the bus only an hour before dinner, my oldest son wanted time to run after sitting all day – and his brain was just exhausted. We all have different opinions on homework, and this post isn’t the place for that battle. With a caring, knowledgeable teacher this year, my son’s homework has been purposeful and appropriate, as well as a window to us as parents as to what they are working on in school. In the context we have experience homework this year, I am supportive. That might change with another year and another teacher, but this year it is a good thing for our family.
We battled about homework for those first few weeks of the school year, until the lightbulb went off for both me and my husband. We are both educators, but neither of us were using our own teaching techniques with our own child. We’re going to share what has worked for us, in hopes that maybe one of these strategies will work for you.
Do Homework in the Morning
Is your child an early bird? Our oldest is up with sun, so we have started laying his homework out on his desk to be done in the morning. Since he is freshest then, we find his morning work is done enthusiastically and neatly, all while we are catching a few more minutes of uninterrupted zzz’s.
Wait Until After Dinner
Is your child not a morning person? That’s ok. Let them come home from school, grab a snack, and run off their energy before they sit down to do homework. Break their homework into manageable mini tasks (e.g., let’s take 10 minutes to work on sight words) so that they feel as though they are accomplishing something along the way.
Take Dinner to Discuss Writing Prompts
We often use the weekly writing prompt to spark a family dinner discussion. Is your child supposed to write about the meaning of freedom? The role of a president? Their favorite family moment? Take dinner time to brainstorm ideas so that your child has not only a deep understanding of the question before writing but has taken the time to brainstorm ideas to focus their writing accordingly.
Make It a Game
We love gamifying homework. We challenge the kids – how fast, how many, how long…in terms of sight words, math facts and others. The kids love challenging themselves against their personal best records.
Do the Apps First
If your child is like ours, he or she has a half dozen apps available for them for reinforcing their literacy and math skills. We have seen some real growth with regular use of these apps, and our guy doesn’t fuss at the extra iPad time. So, if you have apps as part of the expected homework routine, you might want to start there – maybe they won’t even realize they are learning!
Let Them Do Homework Alone
The point of homework is that it should be something that is practice for your child – a skill they learned in school and are practicing at home. One of the best things you can do for your child is to help them develop the ability to independently do homework. Learn to differentiate between whether your child is procrastinating or the skill is too hard. If it is too hard, let the teacher know!