How to Help Kids Develop Homework Routines
One of the big challenges a lot of parents ask me about is homework. It's a battleground for many families, but the reality is, if your kids are in a traditional school setting, homework is part of life. Kids need to learn to become responsible for their homework; it will take some time to develop a routine, and your job is to help them do that, while NOT doing their actual homework! Here are my top tips to help kids develop homework routines. As with all manner of parenting things, consistency is key as you work with your kids to develop a homework routine.
1. Don't start with homework first thing after school
When your kids get back from school, don't start with homework. They need a little buffer time to decompress. Instead, have a snack, do something physical, and/or ask them about their day first.
2. Help them make a plan
Even if you've got super self-starting older kids, they will likely need help developing a plan, given that they're executive functioning skills are still developing. Ask them what they need to get done for tomorrow and talk about a plan for how they will get it done. Also talk about bigger projects due later in the week that may require incremental work through the week. And if your kid is someone who needs frequent breaks, build that into the plan.
3. Remove distractions
When it's time to get down to business, remove distractions (music, you talking, etc.) so they can get their homework done. And it's totally fine if you don't have the space for a homework station! For younger kids who just have a worksheet or two, they can sit wherever is comfortable. For older kids who have a substantial amount of homework, have them work in their room or somewhere away from the bustle of the rest of the family.
4. Work together
Homework often feels more palatable to my kids if I'm working alongside them. When I can, I try to to bring in my offline work so I'm doing something on paper alongside them.
5. Don't do it for them!
Whether it's a math sheet or a science fair project, DO NOT DO YOUR KID'S HOMEWORK.
6. Remember that frustration and mistakes are part of the process
I get it, dealing with homework meltdowns isn't anyone's favorite thing. But when you let your kids experience frustration and make mistakes they will become more resilient human beings who will learn how to problem solve and cope with things in the world.
7. Set a hard stop at the end of the day
So I am a big believer in setting a hard stop to homework time so there is time to unwind and then get to bed. And while I get it, that at some point with older kids, you just need to let them do their thing, I don't think letting middle/high schoolers stay up until midnight to do their homework is a positive thing. SLEEP IS IMPORTANT! We set a hard stop for when the day ends and this is related to #2 (helping kids make a plan). Figure out a hard stop for your kids and work backwards from there.
8. Keep talking
Remember that stuff outside of homework will bleed into homework. If your kid gets super frustrated with homework, it may be related to something that happened that day at school or something going on with a friend. Try to keep the lines of communication as open as you can, and keep it simple. Asking your kid for a "high" and "low" each day can be enormously helpful in giving you quick insight into their daily experience.