It’s been two weeks since the first day of school and I know it’s been a whirlwind of packing lunches, finding school-safe snacks, signing forms and trying to remember pick-up times. September is great, but it’s definitely an adjustment from the slower pace of summer.
Your child may not have been assigned homework yet, but it’s fairly likely that they will be as of next week. With everything going on in your family’s schedule, I know homework can be a struggle, especially if the activity assigned to complete is in an area that your child doesn’t love.
So, let’s talk about how you can structure homework time in your house to maximize the likelihood that the task will get done and that your sanity will still be intact by the end of it.
1. Consider timing
Before starting homework, it’s important to ensure that your child has had adequate time to unwind and get a mental break. School takes a lot of energy. Unless your child directly asks to do homework as soon as they come home, I recommend planning for at least 30 minutes for play time first. If your child is getting home from an after-school program later in the evening, taking time to talk over supper will go a long way to helping your child be in a better position to tackle homework after.
2. Plan for a full belly
If you’re doing homework in the early afternoon, ensure that your child has had a snack before sitting down. Otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself helping your child with the second question when they’ll say “Can I have a snack?” Getting the snack right at that moment may then break your child’s concentration and could lead to forgetting important steps because they’ve become distracted.
3. Remember “When...then.”
Forget about the actual homework. Some days, it’s tough to just get your child to sit at the table to think about the task at hand, right?!
“When...then” statements can remind your child in a very logical way that when they complete their homework, then they can do an activity that they would prefer to do. I like phrasing it this way because it’s not threatening. Consider an alternate way of saying the same thing: “If you don’t do your homework, you won’t get to play with your friends!” Your child is now on the defensive and you’ve entered into a power struggle. If you simply state “When you’re finished your homework, then you can go play with your friends,” you’re offering a reward for positive behaviour, which is often much more effective than a consequence for a negative behavior.
There’s no magic wand to wave over your kitchen table that will make homework time perfect, but implementing these 3 small changes can improve your odds of getting it done. As always, feel free to reach out if I can be of help!
Mme Michelle is an Instructional Resource Teacher in St. John’s, Newfoundland and is passionate about helping students with diverse needs thrive at school and in the real world. She started French For Life in 2012 with the goal of helping French Immersion students get the support they need to become bilingual, despite academic challenges. Interested in learning more about French For Life virtual or in-person tutoring? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.