Homework can be a battle...day in and day out. There are some students for whom completing homework is second nature. Then, there are some students for whom homework is the bane of their existence. They will do anything to avoid doing it. In this blog post I will give some tips to help your struggling student find their homework groove.
First, you and your child need to figure out what the sticking point is to completing the homework. Is it a problem of writing it down while at school? What about remembering to bring home the materials needed to complete the assignment? Could there be a lack of designated space in which to complete the homework? There are many reasons why homework can be the cause of many meltdowns and resistance. Once you determine what is making getting homework completed so difficult you and your child can brainstorm ways to fix it. In my opinion there is one main issue: your child is not getting the homework during class--this can be for many reasons, most of which stem from distraction issues or organization issues. A solution could be checking in with the teacher to review what was written down as the homework. Another option is for the teacher to hand your child an index card with the assignments pre-written. One way for you to be more directly involved, the teacher can email you each day with the assignments. Now the last two options require the teacher going the extra mile, so it is necessary to have buy-in from them.
One of the first steps to take after defining the reason(s) for the difficulty in completing homework is to make a schedule. This schedule will be simply a time designated to actually work on the homework. You and your child will need to come to this together. Does your child come home from school exhausted? That might mean they need a break (and probably a snack) before starting their work. This break needs to be defined, meaning the time given for the break; a starting and stopping time. If, on the other hand, your child comes home still in "school mode" that is a signal to tap into the mood and start the homework right away. Neither is right and neither is wrong. For the homework struggle to stop being a struggle your child's mindset must be taken into account.
So now we know when homework will be worked on, but do we know where to do it? One very important factor in not letting the homework struggle get away from you is to have a specific spot at which to work. This spot, whether it is in the child's room, the kitchen, the dining room, the family room, needs to be conducive to work. It should be as distraction free as possible to allow for maximum concentration. Does your child like to work alone? Do they need you near to ask questions? Does your child work better with background noise? Complete silence? These are all questions that you and your child need to find answers to together.
Once a location is determined it is time to set it up with the necessary supplies. In my experience it is most convenient to have a caddy, or rolling cart, in which to put all the supplies. This way when it is homework time out come the supplies. When the homework is completed the school supplies can be put away. You and your child know what is needed best, however some important supplies to have handy are pens, pencils, lined paper, erasers, enough surface space for either a textbook and an 8.5"x11" notebook or a computer. Since most assignments and work are currently done on the computer and turned in electronically, it is of the utmost importance to have a strong internet connection.
Lastly, the student should be given as much control over how the homework is completed. As you sit down at the beginning of the homework time write down all the assignments for that day. List them all. Next, it is time to decide the order in which they will be attacked. Some like to "eat the frog" first--start with the hardest assignment. Some like to start easy and build momentum, ending with the hardest work after they've built up their confidence with previous successes. Regardless of the order in which you, together with your child, decide to complete the homework assignments, write them down in order of completion. Having a checklist is such a motivating thing. To be able to check things off or cross them out....nothing feels better!
One more thing, and this can get a little sticky: rewards. Many people believe in external rewards. Many people do not. You, and possibly your child's teacher, need to determine what will work best for your child. I can not give you advice on how to decide. I would love to have a discussion on the benefits of both, so please email me at email@example.com and let's discuss.