Whether your child is 7 years old or 17, you can use the below techniques to ease the tension and stress around homework. Keep reading to learn how to set clear, after-school expectations and help your child create a successful homework routine without bribing, arguing, or babysitting.
Children act out when they are told what to do, especially if what they’re told to do is “boring” or “difficult” — two words we hear a lot when students describe their homework. Chances are, your child knows EXACTLY what he wants to do when he gets home from a long day of school, and it’s probably not long-division.
The process outlined below should take about 15 minutes and save you and your student hours of time.
STEP 1: Ask your child to tell you what he needs to do tonight and what he wants to do tonight.
Right when he gets home from school, let your child know you’d like to sit down for 15 minutes to chat about his plans for the rest of his day. Set a timer for 15 minutes and ask him to monitor the time. As he lists his tasks and plans, write them down on a sheet of lined paper, in a single column on the left-hand margin. Weigh his wants and needs equally, and assure him he can make time for both!
Tip: Is your child not sure what was assigned? Most teachers ask students to fill out a daily agenda or update their class websites with an online agenda. If all else fails, he can call a friend from class.
STEP 2: Ask your child how long he thinks each task will take him to complete, what obstacles he may encounter, and what materials he may need.
Start a new column to the right of each task and write down your child’s best estimate of how long each task will take him. Thinking ahead to obstacles and materials will help your student plan ahead and anticipate any challenges before he starts.
Tip: Most students will underestimate how long a task will take them. If your child tells you 5 minutes, it will most likely take 15. If a task includes an obstacle, help your child think of solutions before they begin. Resist the urge to tell him what to do, and instead, ask the right questions to lead him to his own conclusions – even if you disagree.
STEP 3: Ask your child to assign a start and end time to each task.
In a final column, help your child pick the order of the tasks he will complete. Assign a start and end time based on the estimated time required.
Tip: Don’t forget to schedule breaks before and between assignments. Taking a 30-minute breather after school will help your child de-stress. A 20 to 30-minute concentrated task can earn a five-minute break. This will help him improve focus when he works.
By planning work and fun ahead of time, your child won’t feel like he has a never-ending pile of homework. He will work with a goal in mind and have something fun to look forward to once he’s done.
Keep in mind and make sure to discuss that planning and time management are skills that take practice, patience, and perseverance. Don’t expect your child to adhere to this schedule perfectly, and let him know that he most likely will need to make adjustments along the way. The benefit of making this a daily routine is you get to learn from each attempt and get better and better as time moves forward.
NOTE: Our X-Skills program can really help with academic discipline and planning. It’s more than just a planner, it’s a highly effective tool that, when used, leads to great results. X-Skills can be incorporated into any tutoring program.