Q: School has started and I do not want another one like last year.

Homework was a constant struggle. From the minute my child came home until she went to bed, we were fighting. Please give me some suggestions so this year is better.

 

A: Homework! It seems to be an age-old issue for parents. My advice to parents is to create a consistent pattern, or schedule, for children. Without a pattern, homework becomes an issue. It can be more difficult with older children, but with consistent rules, fair consequences, and lack of emotion on the parents’ part, the homework battle can be won.

Step 1: Determine a homework time that can be “fairly” consistent. I say fairly because no family has a schedule that can not allow for some variations. I advocate for doing homework immediately when students get home. Natural consequences are easier to implement this way.

Step 2: Clearly state the expectations. “Your homework must be completed before you can” . . . watch TV, go outside, go to your room, etc. If you are not home after school, tell your children their work must be complete before they do any other activities. If it is not, they will not be able to do anything for the rest of the evening.

Step 3: Don’t nag. Allow children to do their homework and let them know you are available if they need help. If they are angry about doing their homework let them vent. Don’t battle. Instead, repeat “When you are done with your homework you can . . .”

Step 4: Don’t let them stay up past their bedtime. Instead, simply put their homework away and have them go to school with it incomplete the next day. If it gets to this point it is important to let the teacher know what is happening at home. This way the teacher can reinforce expectations and have consequences at school such as no recess.

The biggest mistake is to turn homework into a parent issue. Children will work the system. It is important for them to be responsible for homework. The parent’s job is to create the guidelines and support children’s needs.