Battling Homework: Top 5 Strategies to Overcome Homework Difficulties

Having spent the whole day at school, there is a good chance that the last thing your child wants to do is their homework!!!! In fact, for many children (and their parents), homework time is often an occasion for avoidance and argument. This can be draining on all family members and may lead to homework tasks being incomplete.  That can have negative effects on a child’s progress at school. Fortunately, there are many strategies for reducing the difficulties associated with completing homework.  Check out www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au/homework-and-study/homework-tips for some good tips. Below are my top 5 strategies based on my years of experience working with children and families battling homework:

  1. Establish a homework-inclusive after-school routine
    A good after-school routine involves a snack and exercise before homework time. Ideally, children should be issued the goal of completing their homework in a specified amount of time (upwards of 20 minutes depending on the age of the child). Crucially, all homework should be completed well in advance of bed time.
  2. Create a homework-friendly environment
    As a general rule, it is advised that parents remove distracting items away from their child during homework time and ensure their desk space is clear. Shared areas, such as the dining room table, offer the perfect environment for monitoring the homework behaviours of those children who have difficulty separating themselves from these sources of distraction.
  3. Children need to complete their own homework independentlyAs mandated by the NSW department of education and communities (www.dec.nsw.gov.au), homework tasks should be appropriate for a child’s age and ability. As such, most children should be able to complete their homework independently. In situations where assistance is genuinely required, parents should aim to work collaboratively with their child (e.g., asking questions or offering to assist with one step of the task) rather than taking over and completing the work for their child.
  4. Praise effort and set children up to succeed
    Some children who avoid homework may be experiencing broader academic difficulties. Despite putting in their best effort, these children may not receive accolades for their academic work, which can be disheartening and demotivating. In order to avoid such issues, it is important that parents praise their child’s efforts rather than the product. Find ways to comment on how hard they are “trying” to learn.

    Children should always be set up to succeed in order to keep them motivated with homework. Break overwhelming homework down into smaller steps for them and allocate shorter time segments to complete each step. This will help give them some sense of accomplishment over their work and continue to motivate them to keep applying themselves to homework.

  5. Model good homework behaviours
    Where possible, consider completing your own “homework” (e.g., work emails or paying bills) in a way that demonstrates concentration and application in front of your child. These activities also give parents an opportunity to demonstrate other good homework behaviours, such as staying on task and prioritising tasks in order of importance or due date.
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