When the final bell rings, the last thing most kids want to do is sit down to do more school work, but that's just what happens when teachers assign homework. Even though you don't do the actual work, homework can seem like a hassle for parents, too. Negative feelings toward the extra work can cause your child to avoid doing homework in the future and contribute to family conflict, according to Victoria L. Dunckley, M.D., in a Psychology Today article. Changing the homework routine can decrease the stress on everyone involved.
Discuss the homework schedule with your child's teacher to get a sense of how often to expect the extra work. Elementary school teachers sometimes follow a specific schedule, such as spelling homework on Monday, math on Tuesday and reading on Thursday. Other teachers follow a random schedule. Knowing what to expect helps you prepare so you and your child aren't overwhelmed.
Decide on a specific spot for doing homework. Your child doesn't need his own home office, but he does need a place he can go each night to do the work. Choose a spot without distractions or clutter. If you don't have desk space, clear off the kitchen table or counter top.
Add personal touches to the homework space that make the work more comfortable for your child. Put a pillow on her chair, or let her sit on a balance ball. Give her a stress ball to squeeze while she's thinking. Play quiet music in the background if it isn't distracting to her.
Gather all of the supplies your child might need for his homework, such as pencils, pens, glue, scissors, sticky notes and rulers. The specific supplies vary depending on your child's age and the type of assignments his teacher gives. Put all of the materials in a tub that you store near the homework spot. When all of the essentials are at hand, you don't have to run all over the house looking for items.
Time the homework session to match your child's personality. Some kids want to sit down right away to get the work done, while others want time to unwind first. Give your child his choice of activity for a certain amount of time after school. Let him know how long he has. Say, "You get 20 minutes to do whatever you want. Then we have to start homework. I'll set a timer to let us know when it's study time."
Fuel your child's study sessions with nutritious snacks, such as apple slices dipped in nut butter, yogurt or vegetables with dip. If you let your child snack while he works on homework, choose non-messy foods so his papers don't get smudged.
Break up the homework into smaller chunks with a few minutes of free time between each section. Work that takes five to 10 minutes per grade level -- 20 to 40 minutes in third grade, for example -- is an average expectation, according to Dr. Stacie Bunning. Teachers don't always follow that standard, though. Your child may also take longer to complete the work. By giving her breaks, you make the task more manageable.
Reward your child throughout the homework session. For example, give him a five-minute break after he finishes 10 math problems. A final reward is also an option. When he completes all of the work, he might get time on the computer.