Tackling the Homework Problem
Homework civil wars can make school nights miserable for the whole family. Schoolwork battles can go on for two, three, or four hours a night. People begin to dread the evening, relationships become more strained, and the child in question learns to hate schoolwork more and more.
Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to make homework time more tolerable and efficient. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about tackling the homework problem.
1. My ten-year-old daughter claims she can do homework with her headset on and music playing. I think it will distract her, but she remains adamant that she can do this. How can you do two things at once!? What should I do?
Believe it or not, lots of kids do OK with music playing—it becomes kind relaxing background noise. Try it both ways and see what happens. Give her a break. Remember it's her homework and not yours, and you want her to have a lot to say about how she does it. Caution: music might work okay here, but TV never will. TV is always out to get your attention.
2. When my twelve-year old sits down to do his homework, the three- and five-year old just gravitate to him and distract him like crazy. I enjoy watching them all play together, but there is work to do! I want to be fair to everybody.
That's cute, and in a way it's a nice problem to have. But homework has to take precedence here. The little ones can play with their big brother later. Keep them out of the way—counting can help a lot with that. Also, have the older one work in a separate room (vs. the kitchen table) out of sight. Don't feel guilty about being The Enforcer!
3. My son is ADHD and he takes an "all-day" medication for school. It seems to work well. But by the time he gets home, we have homework to do and the meds are gone from his system. Homework then is an awful battle. Help!
Many "all-day" meds last less than ten hours and they are gone by after-school time. Two options: 1) find a medication that last longer, or 2) do a "booster" dose after school of some kind of 3-4 hour stimulant. Often it does not have to be the exact same drug as was used during the day. Talk it over with your doctor.
4. My son's attitude toward homework "sucks"—pardon my expression. How can I get him to look at this necessary work more positively?
Do not—under any circumstances— try to lecture or talk your son into liking homework. First, be sympathetic: "Yes, homework is often hard and it IS a pain." Second, get your homework routine down to a science so you can get it over with quickly. Don't ask out of the blue—and right in the middle of his favorite video game—if he has homework. Third, praise your boy for his effort—and it is EFFORT! Let's face it: How many kids really like homework?