One of the biggest fights that children and parents have is over homework. For some students, homework struggles are a frequent occurrence and can be extremely challenging without the benefit of the teacher present.
However, Having a plan in place and a little knowledge you can get through these with a little patience and commitment. Here are some tips on how to prevent those homework struggles from spiraling out of control.
Students struggling with homework is an increasing problem. Ever increasing demands on student’s time, and a shortening attention span globally are some root causes. Solutions can include: Schedule setting, regular break periods, extrinsic and intrinsic motivations, and teacher parent cooperation.
Many schools have gone to either online learning, remote learning, or in-person learning with remote or online days and times. This new learning format is challenging, even for older children. Young children with less experience in the classroom are miserable at times.
Homework struggles does not necessarily mean struggling students. Students who are not getting adequate instruction time are struggling even though they wouldn’t usually. We have compiled some tips for parents experiencing struggles with their young kids doing homework.
Understanding the Problem
If your child is struggling with homework, you need to understand what is causing the struggle. Are your children resistant to beginning homework or having trouble with a specific type of assignment? The answer to this question will determine what you do next.
If your child has trouble remembering instructions or comprehending them, you might have to look for alternate instructions or access to their coursework. Sometimes students forget assignments, and writing them down is the best thing they can do.
For other students, they hear the instructions and do not comprehend them. This type of challenge may indicate a learning disability, so you need to determine which issue your child is having. Keep in mind that not every child having trouble remembering or comprehending instructions has a disability.
Potential Problems and Possible Solutions
We want to address a variety of problems and their solutions. Each problem may have several solutions. They may even have solutions that we do not list. These are merely some suggestions to get your creative juices flowing.
Struggling with the Homework
Children who are struggling with assignments are often resistant to doing the assignment. Even if they sit down to do the assignment, students who are working to the point of frustration will sometimes fight or kick and scream and call themselves names. This behavior is not only frustrating for parents, but it is also heartbreaking.
Assist with Assignments
While homework is for student practice, they cannot practice what they do not know. Act as a facilitator. Help reread assignment instructions and go over the material again if you can. As a parent watching your child struggle, it can be tempting to tell them the right answer, but this does not help them learn. Help students discover the answer by slowing down and chunking the steps.
Talk to the Teacher
Encourage your child to work with the teacher to find solutions, but emailing or talking to the teacher may help you find ways to help your child at home. Ask for additional information that can help you and your child get through these challenges at home.
Asking for clarification may help you find new ways to explain the material to your child. If the teacher notices a trend, he or she may recommend interventions or tutoring for your child.
Flip The Classroom / Stop with the Worksheets
Although we are aiming this article at parents trying to combat homework struggles, this one if for the teacher. STOP GIVING BORING HOMEWORK! try flipping the classroom. send home the materials to read, watch, engage with. Send home a game to play with their parents, or on their own, it can still all be assessed.
Sending home work sheet after worksheet will not achieve much more than causing problems and division. There are hundreds of games here on our site that offer a little more interaction. None of them are candy crush or Minecraft, but children will respond if they feel teachers are making an effort to make work more interesting.
If you need to edit games we even sell those in our shop, then you can arm yourself with a suite of tasks that if not quite as exciting as Disney at least they are a step in the right direction.
Procrastination and Attention
Procrastination is fun for kids. Legos, Elsa and Anna, dinosaurs, and balls are much more interesting than math, science, or writing. Children need help with self-regulation of behaviors.
Executive function is not an innate skill. It must be taught. Sometimes children just have trouble with procrastinating or paying attention.
Set a Schedule
Set a time to do homework. Nothing else is allowed to be done during homework time. You might even have to “countdown” homework time; a two-minute warning does not have to be reserved for Monday night football.
Take Frequent Breaks
When children are having trouble concentrating, taking a break is a good idea. Adults usually don’t work for more than 45 minutes or an hour before needing to stretch and losing their ability to concentrate. Set a timer for twenty to thirty minutes and then a five-to-ten-minute break.
This does not mean that your child should be done with a whole assignment in those thirty minutes. It simply means that they need a minute or two to gather their thoughts and begin again. For children with true Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, this can be the difference between success and failure. A few minutes to get the wiggles out is spectacular.
Find a quick movement video on YouTube if you want to give them something specific to do.
Lack of Interest In Homework
Lack of interest is probably the hardest one to overcome. Students who lack interest will procrastinate, misunderstand, and not be able to concentrate. This problem often has elements of the above two. You can combat it in small ways.
Incorporate Something They Like
Sometimes this one may feel like bribery. You can trade a few minutes of something they love for every thirty minutes of work and real concentration. They must work hard on the assignment and cannot rush through it. During their break, they can play five minutes of their favorite game, listen to their favorite song, or build with their Legos—trade a little fun for a little hard work.
Do It First and Get It Out Of The Way.
Teach your children to do the uninteresting thing first. Insist that they do it well or require it to be redone, but let them do the boring stuff and get it out of the way. Then they can move on to the exciting assignments. If there is a motivator to just get through it it may help them stop fighting it and just do it.
You can use extrinsic and intrinsic motivators here, but if you can help them understand we are all doing this for a reason and the reason is not to bore them out of their minds!! (that is just an unfortunate by-product)
With smaller children it is unlikely you will be able to explain to them there merit of their learning for the future right now. They do understand rewards they can see and touch.
Would We Work For Free?
I have a system in my classroom that rewards good behavior, a table on the wall. I add points for behavior helpfulness, kindness, exceptional effort and work. After they reach a certain number of points there is a tangible reward structure. that enables the children can choose what they would like with the points they have earned. Adapting this to avoid homework struggles is perfectly feasible.
- Quality of work
- stationary, cool pencils, pens, erasers etc
- Trips to play areas
- Use of an iPad / tablet to play (educational) games for a recess
- lunch with the principal ( for me a punishment, for them an honor!)
- Award certificate for them
- Books to take home
- Monitor for a week
- VR trips
I designed that ( its actually bigger, for my classes in school). I do this by introducing that we cant pay children money, its a shame but we cant. We tried it but then they didn’t go to school. So I can pay for good work a different way.
Now, i know teachers have mixed opinions on this. I don’t, if its done correctly. I regard extrinsic motivators as a waypoint on the path to intrinsic ones. I also believe that the are times when we just have to sit and do the boring task, stripping wallpaper, washing the pots and completing homework.
How much nicer is it to say after the wallpaper I will have a tea and cookie, after the pots I will sit and watch my TV show and after my homework I can play with my toys for 30 mins.
We are teaching more than the subject with methods like these we are teaching children how to monitor their time, how to be patient, how to negotiate and how to do boring task that just need doing!
There are only a few suggestions and issues here. If you are concerned about your child’s abilities, always seek advice from teachers or physicians first. Learning disabilities, visual problems, hearing challenges, and other medical and learning needs can be addressed with the appropriate interventions. However, for most children, homework struggles are simply a matter of disinterest, procrastination, or typical challenges with new material keep trying new approaches and you will find the way that works best for your own children.
Hi I’m Marc. A teacher of over 15 years, English, General Studies and Outdoor Education. Thought it was about time to sharing both what I have learnt during that time and the resources I have put together. On this site we aim to teach the theory and share our thoughts, but also go that one step further and give you access to the hard resources you need for your class or for you children