Transforming Homework Hassles
Are your children experiencing any of these
common homework problems?
- Distractability and lack of focus
- Frustration during homework
- Rushing through assignments
- Not working independently
- Lack of responsibility
Has homework become a daily battle?
Homework can be a hassle-free experience for you
and your children.
Learn how with Noël Janis-Norton’s
Transforming Homework Hassles DVD!
Transforming Homework Hassles and
Parents tell us that homework itself isn’t usually the problem. What is upsetting is the conflict it ignites between the parent and the child. Our goal is to help you achieve calmer, easier, happier homework by establishing a framework that eliminates conflict and gives your child the tools to do his best work. You will find your child becoming more confident, competent and self-reliant as they take responsibility for their homework.
How much should parents be involved in homework?
Very few children have the maturity and motivation to productively manage their homework without some guidance from parents. For most children and teenagers, effective homework habits begin with rules that parents initially make, based upon the parents’ own values. Parents need to prepare the child for success by setting clear expectations about when and where homework will be done and to arrange an environment for the child to work productively, without distractions.
It can be very easy for parents to get sucked into doing homework with their children and often without realizing it, to end up doing their thinking for them. There is an important role for parents to play, however. In the Transforming Homework Hassles DVD, Noël shares her “school success skills” and explains how to break the homework down into three stages that will ensure that the child knows exactly what they need to do for each subject and how to do it on their own, thoroughly and accurately with no help from the parent.
The goal of homework is to reinforce skills that the child learns at school. If parents are having to teach concepts, that’s a bigger problem that needs to be addressed with the teacher and school administration. The ultimate aim with homework is for the child to be able to take responsibility for his own work, to do it independently and to do thorough and accurate work.
Is homework taking too long in your family?
Many parents feel that homework is taking up too much of their child’s day. It could be that their child is not focused because various distractions make homework time very inefficient.
Just as parents need relaxation after work, after a long day at school, children deserve downtime, quality family-time, and reasonable bed-times. When homework expands to fill the afternoon and evening, it gets in the way of these and other important activities. If homework is taking more time than you think it should, start by talking with your child’s teacher, and find out how much time homework is expected to take. One common rule of thumb is 10 minutes of homework per grade, so third graders would not be expected to do more than 30 minutes of homework. If your child’s school expects significantly more than this, you may want to have a discussion with the teacher or administrator. Especially for elementary grades, there is not convincing evidence that lots of homework improves student achievement.
After you get the teacher’s input on homework, it is important for the adults in the home to decide, together, what their homework expectations are. If one parent is not “onboard,” your child will perceive that! The more supportive you can be of the teacher’s efforts, the more your child will benefit. If you disagree with the school’s policies, work with the school to make a change, but in the meantime don’t confuse your child by criticizing his teacher’s approach.
In the Transforming Homework Hassles DVD, Noël Janis-Norton shares powerful strategies that will enable you to help your child become more efficient with their homework, giving your family more time for other activities. An effective routine for many families includes making sure kids have some physical activity and a healthy snack when they get home from school. A short bike ride or game of tag with a sibling will help your child decompress. Screen time (computer, video games, etc.) makes most children less cooperative and energetic, so it’s more effective to use screen time as a reward for completing homework and other family chores. Among the many specific strategies Noël shares, one of the most powerful is “Sacred Homework Time.”
Sacred Homework Time
Establish a “sacred” homework time for your child that is a focused block of time free of phone, e-mail, and other distractions. Use a timer or otherwise limit this to whatever amount of time you, in consultation with the teacher, think is appropriate. When the time is up, homework is finished for the day, and your child has earned some guilt-free downtime. This new routine will be hard at first—your child may panic that they have not completed their assignment—but if you stick with the new routine there will be great benefits:
- Your child will be increasing their ability to concentrate and
- Effective homework habits become effective school habits
- Your child is able to participate in family activities, enjoy
guilt-free downtime, and have a reasonable bedtime.
Prepare your child for the new routine in advance with a think-through, but not in the car on the way home from school! Think-throughs need to be at a neutral time. This will be their chance to express concerns about the new routine, and your opportunity to ask and prompt (not tell!) them how they might solve those issues.
You may want to let the teacher know that your family is implementing this new approach, and you may need to send them a couple of e-mails or notes early on if homework wasn’t completed in the allotted time. A benefit of this is that teachers become more aware of how long assignments are actually taking.
Remember, the “sacred” homework time happens every day—if there isn’t an assignment due the next day, the child studies for an upcoming test, practices math facts, or works ahead. Most teachers announce due dates in advance so that students can plan their time and work in reasonable increments—instead of cramming the night before. Sacred homework time supports development of your child’s ability to plan ahead.