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Diffusing Homework Power Struggles

by : Tiffany Tunnell
posted on : 2/19/2014

As a parent, you probably dread homework time with your child. At times, you may feel like you are pulling your hair out just to help your child complete a single math problem. Perhaps you have to offer incentives to simply get your child to sit down and read for twenty minutes.

You are not alone: While many parents value the importance of homework time with their school age children, they also quickly realize that homework completion rarely comes without stress, frustration, or a genuine lack of enthusiasm from your children.

From an early age, children experience the task of completing homework outside of their normal school classroom. So why is it so many parents find themselves battling with their children to complete their homework?

First and foremost, it is important to set good homework “etiquette” throughout the house and
be the role model and leader throughout homework time.

The U.S. Department of Education recommends these five tips for homework etiquette for parents:

  1. Set up a study/homework space. This space should allow enough room to work with little distractions and should be relatively quiet. They recommend a table or desk where children can sit attentively, with no television or electronics.
  2. Be a role model. If your children have to sit down and do their work for a prolonged amount of time, you can help by setting a good example. Sit quietly with them and read or work on something that you have been putting off. This allows you to assist your children and accomplish something as a family.
  3. Set a schedule or routine. Each day’s homework time should be at a set schedule and should not be interrupted by outside activities. Schedule clubs, sports, meals, and activities preferably after homework time. This gives your child something to strive for and encourages good work effort before doing something else that will most likely be more fun.
  4. Encourage independence. Homework is to help the student gain mastery of concepts they are working on in school. Encourage your children to work through 90-95% of their homework on their own and complete it with little assistance. Homework assignments should correlate exactly to what the child is learning in school and should be at a level that your child can complete with little adult assistance. If you feel the homework doesn’t correlate to school activities or is too difficult, follow up with their classroom teacher.
  5. Tackle a challenge. Teach your children to tackle the more difficult problems first. Have them read or work through problems themselves. Encourage drawings, outlines, notes, or research to complete their work. If they can master the tough questions, then only the easier problems will remain. This will end homework time on a positive note instead of increasing frustration.

Also, know when to say “You did great! We are done for today.”

Secondly, today’s children are multi-taskers who are easily distracted. Face it: Between the XBOX, Playstation, Wii, iTouch, computers, and all the other electronic devices out there, many children today find it difficult to sit down and focus on their homework. By using the tips from above, hopefully you can create an environment that is geared toward completing homework without technology interfering.

Although homework etiquette will diffuse a lot of homework difficulties, it won’t prevent the occasional meltdown of a frustrated child. The National Center for Learning Disabilities recommends “you should spend no more than 10 to 20 minutes working through homework that neither you nor your child knows how to do. Acknowledge it will take more instruction from a teacher before your child is ready for this homework. If you haven’t figured out the homework, let your child know the homework won this round, but remember to follow up with their teacher and have the teacher to make sure they (and you) will win the next round.”

At the end of the day, if you still find yourself unable to help your children with their school homework, seek outside assistance. Many programs, like our one-on-one learning at MathRise® Learning Centers in Litchfield Park and Glendale, Arizona are available with certified instructors to help students with both homework and correcting issues with the fundamentals. These programs take the stress and worry off you and provide you with the assurance your child will be able to complete their homework correctly without undue stress and frustration.

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