Minimize Conflict over Homework
Revised January 2015 by Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Extension Educator — Family Resiliency.
Homework is a powerful tool that can contributes to the advancement of your child’s education. But homework can also create tension at home. Children need structure and routine. At home and at school, children do their best and feel responsible for their own behavior when structure is implemented.
Why Tension Rises
Sometimes when you get involved in your child’s education, tension rises. You want the best for your child’s future, and your child may experience that desire as pressure to succeed. Homework is a challenging factor influenced by students’ learning styles, preferences, and motivation. These are some of the reasons why parents and caregivers need to accommodate individual needs and preferences with the desired outcome: success at school.
To reduce the homework tension, help children to schedule their time, set aside a place, and find their personal homework style. Remember: your child needs guidance and support, as well as leadership, to feel more competent and in control.
How to Create Structure
One way to help your child’s learning is by structuring your child’s environment to support the learning process that starts at school and continues at home. Structure is implemented when students have clear and consistent rules and know what is expected of them.
Here are some tips for parents and caregivers to help children make the most of their study time.
- Set a regular time. Finding a regular time helps children finish assignments. The best schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one household may not work well in another. The biggest challenge might be sitting down and getting started. Work with your elementary child to develop a schedule. An older child can probably make up a schedule independently, although you’ll want to make sure it is workable. It may help to write out the schedule and post it in a place where it’s easy to see.
- Set aside a place. Kids study better if they have a certain place where they can work. It doesn’t have to be exclusively set aside for studying — it can be the kitchen table or the child’s room — but it should be the same place every night. Pick a place that has lots of light, supplies close by, and is fairly quiet. Be open to discussing your child’s preferences, but remember that they need guidance.
- Provide adequate supplies and keep them where they are easily found. Nothing wastes time like a search for a pencil or paper. Ask your children to write down what they need. Collect pencils, pens, and office supplies such writing paper, stapler, and assignment book and keep them together in one place. If you can’t provide your child with needed supplies, it’s ok to check with the teacher or school social worker.
- Find alternatives to a personal computer. If you don’t have a computer available in order for your child to complete a homework assignment, check with the teacher. Many schools have computers and printers in the classroom, and some schools have after school programs where your child can use the computers. Many public libraries and community centers make computers available.
- Eliminate distractions. Some homes are just naturally noisy. To the extent you can, create a quiet space. Turn off the television and discourage phone calls or visits during study time. If you live in a smaller noisy household, try having all family members participate in a quiet activity during homework time. Remember there are individual preferences as well; discuss with your child if background noise like quiet music would help to complete homework in a pleasant and efficient manner.
- Help your child to find their own working style. Some people like to tackle one project at a time. Other people like to go back and forth between projects. Some like to take notes and draft graphs while others prefer to write plain and simple.
- Try to promote the use of organizational tools. Ask them to write down their to-do lists, to use an online calendars or school agenda, or even a small dry erase board. This will help them focus. It will also give them a sense of accomplishment when they cross something off a list.
Remember, the goal is to provide quality parental support and structure, reduce tension, and complete homework.
Hong, E., & Milgram, R. M. (2004). Homework: Motivation and learning preference. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Katz, I., Kaplan, A., & Buzukashvily, T. (2011). The role of parents' motivation in students' autonomous motivation for doing homework. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(4), 376-386.
Solomon, Y.,Warin, J., & Lewis, C. (2002). Helping with homework? Homework as a site of tension for parents and teenagers. British educational research journal, 28(4), 603-622.
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