Homework can be put in its place and prevented from ruling the home and ruining family sanity. There are some important questions to ask in order to discover why the homework issue is out of control in your home. And there are also practical strategies to make life easier.
It’s very important to act when homework seems to be taking over. Most schools have homework policies and really don’t want homework to wreck family sanity. Always contact your child’s school to discuss this issue with the teachers. Here are some practical steps and possible causes of the homework beast taking over in your home…
Questions to ask…
Do other parents also find that there is too much homework?
Don’t just ask one or two. Try to casually find out what a few other parents think by speaking to the parents of your child’s friends or talking to them as you attend a sports event or wait to pick up your child.
If other parents also feel that there is too much homework, approach the school calmly. No school wants children and parents to be stressed and will be very happy to talk things through to find a solution that makes everyone happier. But do consider the following before approaching the school…
Is your child simply craving attention?
Some children love to be the centre of mum or dad’s attention and few things command immediate attention more than homework blues. Has your child suddenly developed the need for your help with homework since the arrival of the baby sister or since you have been extremely busy with other family issues? Has anything happened that might be making your child feel insecure and need your undivided attention?
Is your child a procrastinator?
Sometimes the issue isn’t that there is too much homework. The real problem is that everything has been left to the last night. Subtly check when the homework was given and when it is due. If time management is the issue, help your child develop a study planer for the wall or a study diary listing due dates. Help your child divide a task into smaller parts and get started early rather than late.
Is your child a worrier or a perfectionist?
Some children take forever to complete a simple homework task because they want everything to be absolutely perfect. If you think this is the issue, help your child get started on a task and set a time by which you want to see most of the work completed. Check back at the half way point to see how things are going. It can take a little effort, but it is possible to help children realise that not every letter needs to be engraved in stone in order to receive pleasing comments from parents and teachers. If you can see that your child is taking too much time on unnecessary embellishment, explain that he should complete the answers first and then add extra pictures and graphics if there is time. Stress that the answers are more important than the graphics.
Does your child refuse to do homework or rushes through homework?
It’s important not to let children get away with careless homework or with skipping homework. Telling children that you will be proud of them for doing their best may improve the situation. If not, it’s essential to draw the line and not allow your child to watch that favourite TV program or play those computer games until the homework has first been completed to a reasonable standard. If you can’t read your child’s writing, chances are that the teachers won’t be greatly impressed either. If the piece of work looks as though the dog has played with it, explain to your child that this is giving the teacher a poor impression and you expect better. Stress that you know your child can do better and that this is what you want to see.
While it’s a great idea to speak to other parents about homework, it’s not a great idea to then organise a petition or a delegation. Schools want children and parents to be happy. A rational and respectful approach is guaranteed to be more successful and have a happy outcome for everyone.