How can I get my child to complete her homework?

As children enter elementary school, they have their first experience with homework. Kindergartners and first graders usually have minimal assignments, while older children are gradually given more. Some teachers assign work every night and some give homework every Monday to be completed by Friday. Many kids resist doing their homework, causing family struggles and frustration.

“Why won’t she finish her reading and be done with it?” “Why do I have to yell before he’ll get started?” “Why does she wait until the last minute?” Parents want their child to be responsible and do her work carefully and on time. They don’t like resorting to arguments, bribes, and threats.

There are many reasons why children struggle with homework. Assignments may be confusing: “Did she say finish page thirty-three or thirty-six?” “I don’t remember what to do with these math problems.” A child who has difficulty in school or who lacks the skills to complete her work may become angry and refuse to do—or even acknowledge—assignments: “I hate homework!” “I don’t have any homework.”

Many kids are bored with their assignments and are therefore reluctant to do them: “I already know how to spell these science words.” Common weekly tasks have students copying spelling words over and over or coloring in mimeographed pictures. Even to parents, assignments can seem time-consuming and pointless.

Some children have problems with homework because of their schedules. They go from school to after-school activities or child care and may not arrive home until early evening. With limited time to eat dinner, be with family and friends, and relax, a child may put off homework.

Parents may find that struggles intensify in the evening. If a child is too tired or too distracted to do homework at night, her parents should encourage her to get some or all of it done after school. Most child care centers provide a quiet workspace. If she comes home in the afternoon, her parents can arrange a flexible schedule of play and homework. This is usually better than a rigid requirement to finish homework first.

To help your child become more responsible about homework, try some of these suggestions. Have her write down assignments in a special notebook. When she comes home from school, find out what her homework instructions are. That way you’ll learn what she’s doing in school and when she has long assignments. This will help you avoid late-night surprises: “I just remembered. My book report and poster are due tomorrow.” One father found himself at the drugstore at 9:00 at night buying supplies for his son’s school project.

Sit with your child while she does homework. Since the kitchen is often the center of family activity, have her work at the table while you prepare food, read, or pay bills. Take short breaks together. Offer your help, but be prepared for possible arguments about assignments. Kids often take their anger out on parents since they can’t yell at a teacher. Your child might resist your suggestions: “It doesn’t matter if it’s neat.” “That’s not the way my teacher said to do it.” “I know my vocabulary words. I don’t need to go over them.” Be gentle when pointing out mistakes, and, if necessary, set limits on your child’s way of expressing herself: “When you can explain what you need in a calmer way, I’ll be happy to help you.” Occasionally, if she’s bogged down with repetitive work you know she understands, it’s all right to help her out with answers.

If she has trouble with a particular subject, consider offering more intensive help yourself or hiring a tutor. If your child consistently struggles to complete assignments, speak to the teacher. The work may be inappropriate or too difficult. You should work with the teacher to improve your child’s academic experiences, including homework.

Your child will probably continue to need reminders about homework. At times you’ll have to be firm: “You have to start your homework right now.” By third or fourth grade, although she’ll still need some help, she will be more responsible about getting her work done independently.

Picture Credit : Google