Oh my goodness I get asked this question so often.
The trick is to keep our own stress levels down and keep calm. Plan ahead and create an environment for homework success.
Here’s the strategy I developed when my children became teenagers and homework suddenly became a source of conflict. I’ve shared it with many parents who tell me it’s worked for them. Maybe it will help you too.
1. Step back. This is their homework and their responsibility.
2. If they seem to be struggling to work it out say ’How can I help you with this?’ be ready to be told you can’t and then remind them you are here if they need you. Even if you have some great ideas that would make everything easier wait before you offer suggestions.
3. Create a space for them to work in that’s free from distractions. A neutral space like a corner of the living room or kitchen often works better.
4. Praise the effort or action ‘Well done for getting on with it, I know it’s hard, boring, seems pointless (use their words) but I admire you for doing it anyway.
5. Refuse to get into an argument about the point of homework. Make an appointment with their teacher so you understand the reason for the homework if you’re not sure. Be ready to walk away if your child is looking to take their frustration out on you.
6. Acknowledge how they’re feeling ‘Yes I understand why you think this is stupid but sometimes we have to do things when we're learning that don’t always make sense at the time.
7. Trust they know the best way to do it. Methods and strategies develop quickly and the way you were taught at school has probably changed.
8. Don’t facilitate a lack of planning. Telling you at 8.15am that they don’t have something vital for a lesson that day is not good planning.
9. Separate out each child and manage homework separately if you know that one of them is likely to become difficult but don’t compare behaviour. Saying ‘Why can’t you just get on with it like your brother?’ will just build resentment
10. Don’t do it for them. This is repeating No.1 I know but you’d be amazed how many parents do the homework for their children rather than have the argument.
As always I’d love to know if any of these ideas worked for you.