Why does this happen so often? You say, “It’s time to do your homework,” and your child says, “I don’t have any.” You’re not alone if you and your child find homework time to be a stressful part of the day. Even five-year-olds are asked to do homework, which can interfere with their important work called “play.”

One reason teachers give homework is to help children learn responsibility, and develop and practice skills. It’s also a good way for parents to be involved in their child’s education. Teachers use homework as a diagnostic tool to understand their student’s strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important for parents not to do their child’s homework for them. But if you think your child is getting too much homework, don’t hesitate to ask the teacher to explain why she’s giving so much. You are your child’s best advocate, so speak up if you see them become stressed by the amount and type of work required.

Here are ten tips your family can use to stay on track with homework:

  • Have a family meeting to establish homework guidelines. Involve your child in setting up the rules. Some questions to consider are:
    • Who does your child like to get help from?
    • What environment and room does he work best in?
    • What time of day is best?
  • Set aside a quiet time for everyone in the family to decrease distractions. Although turning off the television is essential, some kids do well with music playing during homework time.
  • When children are hungry they have a harder time concentrating. Offer a healthy snack before or during homework.
  • Organize supplies and have them easily accessible. A big box with everything your child needs works well.
  • Give positive feedback when you see your daughter doing well. “Maria, your handwriting is really getting easy to read. I see you’ve been working hard at it.”
  • Don’t criticize when children make mistakes. If there’s a regular problem, talk to the teacher.
  • Pay attention to your stress level and be patient. After a long day of school and work, everyone is tired.
  • If your child gets frustrated easily, he may want to do homework at the kitchen table to be near you. Help him get started. Some children need more help then others, so respect different temperaments and learning styles.
  • If there’s frequent complaining, evaluate the homework to see if it’s too hard.
  • Allow computer time or TV after the homework is done. This offers an extra incentive to complete the work.

For most children, homework is harder now then when you were in school. Help your child enjoy learning and don’t expect perfection.

By Rona Renner, RN.  Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 44 years, a temperament specialist, and a parent educator. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM.