Three Simple Ways to Cut Down on Homework Meltdowns
Tears well in eyes, heads lay on tables, and your family hits their breaking point yet again. Nothing can bring down the mood of an evening quite like a homework meltdown.. I assure you that you aren’t alone in this struggle. Many students and families endure this nightly battle more often than they would like.
I would love to see the homework policies in our country change to make it less of a burden on families and students. I don’t know exactly what this would look like, but I do know that what we’re doing now isn’t really working.
Until homework becomes more flexible for students and families, let’s aim for less meltdowns. Through many years working with kiddos and families on their assignments, I’ve compiled a list of three easy ways you can help your child have less homework stress, while learning more from their after school studies.
- Take Frequent Breaks
Studies have found that kids can focus their age plus or minus one minute. So, for example, a six year old will be able to focus for around 5-7 minutes. Making sure your child is taking frequent breaks ensures they’re able to spend more time focusing in that “sweet spot” without burning out and losing attention completely.
In my opinion, the best homework breaks involve movement because they allow your child to get up from their seat while the physical activity refreshes and refocuses their brain. For a kiddo who has been expected to sit still all day in school, this can be so refreshing! During a break, allow your child to run a lap around the house, do jumping jacks, stretch, dance, or move their body in any way they enjoy. Youtube has some great kids “brain breaks” that would be a fun addition to your homework routine if you’re looking for ideas.
Put it into action: Set a timer for 5-15 minutes (depending on your child’s attention span) and let them get to work on their assignments. When the timer goes off, get up and take a 2-5 minute break, then take a couple of breaths and re-focus on the task at hand (and re-set your timer).
- Have Supplies on Hand
When doing homework and projects, finding the supplies can be half the battle. You can cut down on the time spent doing homework, and the time you spend getting looking for pencils, by creating a homework supplies basket. Having all supplies available in one place will help your child stay focused without having to get up and search for something every few minutes.
Put it into action: Find a caddy or basket that will look nice in your homework area. Gather all the supplies that your child typically needs for homework and projects (ex. paper, pencils, glue, scissors, crayons etc.) and place them in the container. Explain to your child that before pestering you for scissors they should look in the basket!
- Think Outside the Box
Chances are, your child sits still at a desk or table under fluorescent lighting for a majority of the day. This can make sitting still to study and do homework seem super unappealing when they get home. To help cut down on the drudgery and meltdowns, try to step outside the box whenever possible.
Thinking outside the box when it comes to homework can be as simple as an alternate location (such as doing it outside, at a coffee shop, or in a different room of the house). When studying, you can go outside and play a game of HORSE, pass a ball back and forth, or encourage your child to create their own spelling hopscotch game. Stepping outside the ordinary doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money, and doing something a little different can help your child retain information and have fun while doing it!
Put it into action: Choose one day this week to step out of your normal homework routine to do something a little different.
Bonus: Know When to Quit
Homework shouldn’t be a battle every night, and it shouldn’t reduce your child to tears. If homework is getting tense too often, don’t force it. I encourage you to let your child stop when they are at their capacity. Make sure to reach out to the teacher to discuss options for making sure homework doesn’t push your child over the edge every night.
I hope that these simple hacks help your family have a more pleasant experience with homework this school year. How does your family make homework easier on everyone involved? We would love to hear your tips in the comments!
Bio: Zoie is the founder and lead tutor at Hoffman Tutoring Group, an online tutoring company that serves students in K-8th grade. Her passion for personalized learning stems from her own experience as a struggling elementary school student. She dedicates her time to ensuring students get the education and mindset building they need to meet their academic goals by matching them with qualified tutors who plan sessions specifically for each child’s needs, personality, and learning style.
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