For school-age children, academic learning rarely stops when the bell rings at the end of the school day. This means that parents face the challenge of helping children manage their homework time. The following tips can help you navigate homework management and make the process as smooth as possible for you and your child.
Develop an afternoon schedule that includes time for homework. The hours between school and bedtime are busy ones for families who are trying to fit in extracurricular activities, homework, chores, dinner, and family time. Developing a schedule helps you see how best to fit it all in, and having specific time set aside to work on homework will help your children know when they will be able to complete their work. For some families, a consistent afternoon schedule will work best. For others, the schedule might be different each day of the week to accommodate child care arrangements or after school activities. It is best to sit down Sunday evening before the school week starts and review the upcoming activities, appointments, and slots for homework. Involve your children in developing the schedule as much as is appropriate for their ages. You will be teaching them valuable time management skills, while also helping them feel more invested in following the schedule you create together.
Create a homework station. This could be a desk or table dedicated specifically to homework, but it does not have to be. The important thing is making sure that your child has a comfortable place to work with minimal distractions and all the supplies that he or she needs. For younger children who need you nearby, this might simply be a clear spot at the kitchen table with paper and pencils. For older students who prefer to work in solitude, make sure they have easy access to supplies like paper, a calculator, hole punch, stapler, or whatever their specific assignments tend to require. Some students may need access to a computer or the internet to complete certain assignments. Encourage your children to turn off message alerts and put on the Do Not Disturb so that they are not distracted by incoming texts and messages from their friends.
For families with busy schedules, sometimes homework must be done “on the go”, whether in the car or next to the field at a sibling’s sports practice. If this is the case, you can make a “grab and go” homework bag by filling an unused backpack with writing utensils, office supplies, a portable writing surface such as a clipboard and any other needed supplies. In locations where your child regularly completes homework, designate a quiet spot where they can sit to focus on their work.
Use simple incentive systems to motivate your children to get their homework done, such as a special activity that they can do once homework is complete. That said, while some children prefer to get their homework out of the way as soon as they get home, many others will need a break first. If your schedule allows, let your children’s bodies and brains have a chance to move and play, and give them an understanding of when homework time will begin. Always save screen time for after homework time and complete homework during daylight hours whenever possible. When homework is done earlier, evenings can be reserved for their favorite fun and relaxing activities.
Break homework time down. For young children with only brief assignments, homework can likely be done in one session of 30 minutes or less. However, as they get older, homework tends to become both more voluminous and more complex. Thinking about the entire volume of homework at once can be too overwhelming for some. Help your child break homework down into manageable segments. Estimate the amount of time different assignments will take, breaking complex assignments down into smaller manageable subsections. Then schedule in short breaks when they complete specific sections or reach certain milestones in the work.
Make sure your child is ready to work by offering a healthy snack after school, encouraging plenty of water consumption, and sticking to a bedtime schedule as frequently as possible. It is hard to for students to do their best work when they are hungry, dehydrated, or overtired.
Some useful apps for managing homework include: