The Hidden Danger of Nightly Homework Battles (Make Homework Less Stressful)

homework tips for parents

Do you ever dread homework time with your child? 

When I was growing up, homework time ended in screaming, fighting and so much stress. 

I promised myself that when my children have homework, I would do everything in my power to make the homework experience as positive and uplifting as possible. 

The biggest challenge about homework is getting started and being motivated enough to finish the task. I mean, so much time is spent at school already, then there are hours of homework to do after school? 

That can be mentally challenging for any child, and for some children, those kinds of expectations just throw them off and they veer into troublesome behaviour patterns. 

Some children would even prefer to spend their days playing outside with their friends, but then they have to buckle down and focus on homework. Even my brain can’t concentrate if I’m excited about something and I can’t do it right away. 

So how can you avoid the homework struggles in your home? 

Keep reading, I’ve got some actionable tips for you. 

*This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

How To Motivate Children To Do Homework Without Fighting

Before you avoid the struggles “during” the homework time, you can set your child up for success with these few action steps. 

Getting into the correct mindset is essential for anyone to get productive. The best thing to do is emphasize with your child, and let them know that you understand that homework can be a drag, especially after being in school all day long.

Even at the end of an adult workday, the work ends when the shift is complete, and if you had to do more work when you got home, you’d be pretty upset about this too.

That being said, there are a few things that can help with motivation for homework completion.

Evaluate The Situation

Are there any conflicts in your child’s life that may be preventing them from wanting to do homework? Is there a soccer ball that your son has promised to kick around a field or a video game that has been on pause, waiting for after school return? Maybe it’s a phone call to a friend..whatever it may be, it’s a distraction. If a child is thinking about the thing they are missing because of homework, it will be more difficult to have peaceful homework time.

Create boundaries for this distraction. Maybe you should allow some time for kicking the ball or calling a friend after school. If it will help get that task off their minds, then it’s the right thing to do.

Related: 6 Simple Positive Parenting Techniques (That Will Make You A Better Parent)

Limit Homework Time

It’s a good idea to set a time limit for homework completion so that a 20-minute project doesn’t take 2 hours to complete. If a project that is supposed to take 20 minutes DOES take 2 hours, then you should probably have a chat with the teacher about the delay. Was the project too big to accomplish? Did the subject get taught properly? Does your child have enough information to complete the project without having to Google and get lost on the internet for an answer?

Create A Time Of Day For Homework

Some children do their homework right after school while others sit down after dinner and work on their school stuff. Whichever works best for your child, that is when they should be doing their homework. Creating these expectations early will help with the homework struggles later in life.

Don’t Finish Homework For Your Child

It’s tempting to complete a project for your little one when you know they are exhausted and you just want to help out. As much as that is a sweet thought, it teaches your child that they can get away with giving you a bad attitude or avoiding their homework altogether because it will get finished regardless.

Does The Child Understand The Homework?

If the child simply does not understand the assignment, write a note to the teacher that further explanation is needed to complete the homework. 

Focus More On Experience Rather Than Grades

This may seem backwards and totally nutty, but setting high expectations for high grades and achievements in the school puts pressure on children and that can hurt their self-esteem. Killing their confidence like this will not help your child learn and will demotivate the homework stage of the evening.

Helping A Child Who Is Overwhelmed By Homework

  1. Create A Schedule
    • Children thrive on routine. Even the bigger kids! Creating a schedule for when homework should be completed will help an overwhelmed child tackle the homework in a more positive way.
  2. Practice Time Management 
    • Creating a set amount of time for homework to be completed will help your child feel less pressure to spend all night working on one project that just needs to be completed.
  3. Find A Homework Spot
    • A child who gets overwhelmed by homework will likely find comfort in having a location within the home where homework gets completed on a regular basis.
  4. Be There For Support
    • Be there to help with transitions between tasks, and even for getting started on the work. Sometimes children just need a little motivation and a push in the right direction to get that homework completed. If you are watching over the tasks, your child will not be as overwhelmed having to man the whole project by themselves.
  5. Try A Timer 
    • Sometimes, an overwhelmed child can get confidence when a timer is used to regulate homework time. Setting the time boundary can provide peace of mind and calm the child down enough to complete the homework.
  6. Refocus
    • All of our brains need breaks here and there. Refocus your little one by encouraging a break from the homework.
  7. Praise Effort
    • sometimes homework gets overwhelming if the child feels intimidated by the homework. Sometimes the homework is difficult and your child doesn’t want to fail. Praising their efforts vs. the results of the homework can really help with calming them down enough to get the work completed.
  8. Break It Up
    • For longer assignments, be sure to set deadlines and due dates for different sections of the assignment so that it all doesn’t get pushed back until the last day before it’s due. work that is completed in sections can be more thorough and better completed because it was not rushed!

Creating A Homework Routine

Kids need routines and structure in their lives and having a homework routine is no different than having a bedtime routine. In order for things to go smoothly, it is a good idea to have a daily schedule set up so that all expectations of what to do when are clearly laid out for the whole family.

  1. Create Time Limits
    • Decide how much time is needed to complete homework. Talk to the teachers at school and find out how many hours a week students are expected to work on each subject. If a project takes more than the expected time, then that project will have to get completed a different day. Kids need breaks, they aren’t wired to work and learn more than 8 hours a day.
  2. Figure Out Their Needs
    • Address your child’s needs, do they need to have a snack right after school or do they need to unwind before starting homework.
    • Some kids need to get their homework done right away so their mind is clear and they aren’t worried about homework for the rest of the day while others need more time to get that motivation.
  3. Communicate With Your Child
    • Ask your child when they believe the best time to complete their homework is. You’ll want to guide your child in the homework planning process so that they can stay on routine much easier.
  4. Know The Teachers Expectations
    • Find out what the teacher expects out of your child every day and try to create a schedule that will help with accomplishing those expectations.

Make sure to stick to your homework plan! 

How To Help Children To Not Rush Through Homework

Sometimes kids get overly excited about something other than the work they are doing, and they end up rushing their homework assignments. Handing in rushed homework is a waste of time for the teacher and will reflect badly on your child’s grade.

There are some things you can do if your child is rushing through their homework.

  • Talk to your child about what condition of work is expected from them. Sometimes children are unaware of their rushed assignments and do not realize that their work was in poor condition. Let them know, in a non-condescending way, that this quality of work is not what the teacher is expecting to see.
  • Make sure to re-do an assignment that was originally rushed. If you do notice that your child has rushed through an assignment, let them know that they need to re-do it. Having them re-do it once will help them not make the same mistake the next time. No one likes doing homework twice!
  • Advise them that their activity will be there waiting for them when that assignment is complete. Sometimes children get so excited for what happens after homework is complete, they rush their work and get to their fun as soon as possible. If you can remind your child that the activity is not going to go anywhere, then they are more likely to complete the work without rushing.
  • Be there to guide your child to slow down if you see them rushing. A good rule of thumb is just to watch over your child when they are doing their homework so you can be sure to steer them in the right direction if they need help or if you see them rushing the work.
  • Remind your child of their strengths so they gain some confidence. A good pep talk will help your child feel good about themselves and this will validate the need to hand in a well-done assignment over a half-completed rushed one.

Homework Tips For Parents

It is possible to motivate children to complete their homework without having constant fighting matches during homework time. Getting into the right mindset and setting proper limits will allow children to adjust to homework time and create less resistance.

Sometimes children get so overwhelmed by their homework that they lose self-confidence. Help your child get over the overwhelm by setting timers and creating schedules. Create a support system and encourage breaks too!

It’s a good idea to create a homework routine and work on not rushing through the homework too. Keeping an eye on their homework progress and advising that activities will be there for them when they are finished their homework will help minimize the rushing.

Do you have any tried and true homework tips that you would like to share with me? I would love to hear them!

Elizabeth is a mom of 2 and has a passion for helping children reach their human potential. She enjoys helping parents raise confident and healthy kids by explaining how to handle situations using positive parenting.

15 thoughts on “The Hidden Danger of Nightly Homework Battles (Make Homework Less Stressful)”

  1. Helping kids with their homework these days require a parent being conversant with the syllabus. I tried to help my son learn the multiplication table and he said I was confusing him even though the answers are correct and I think it’s simpler than how he’s being thought at school.

  2. I think one of the best things is to make it become a routine so that good habits are nurtured in the children and they come to look forward to it, especially if little rewards/treats are given. I do think though, that sometimes, too much is given and it can turn off both parent and child.

  3. This is a very sizeable and helpful list of homework help ideas. Choosing a designated spot for homework definitely helps the brain switch into the gear of ‘homework time’. I’m also big on positive reinforcement in teaching so praising effort is huge among my h/work support to-do’s. Giving them something to eat before starting, helping them get started and being available to hear concerns, is also important.

  4. I have been dreading school getting back in for this very reason. Homework seems to always be such a difficult thing for my daughter. It always ends on tears or frustration. I will definitely take these ideas and run with them! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. These are really good tips. I am sure many parents get overwhelmed by their children’s homework and don’t know how best to help. I like the idea of using a timer. I remember when I was young, I got so much homework and seemed to spend hours every night on it. But I think it’s got even harder for kids now. So it’s good for parents to have some guidance.

  6. Having a homework routine and area was a staple in my home, when growing up. Especially with after school sports (homework > sport > dinner). A homework plan and sticking to it, is an absolute must!

  7. My kids always did/still do their homework when they get home from school. A quick snack and then get it done. That way the lesson is still fresh in their head. If the goal of homework is to reinforce the days work then no better time to do it then right after school. I also agree with a homework spot somewhere where I can see them. Also no cell phones to distract them. I help my children where I can but honestly most of the time it is more with the concept of how to approach the homework than the actual assignment. They are at the point where the math is over my head or the way they are being taught is so drastically different than how I learned it that I can’t help them.

  8. Having a designated spot to do homework and having the appropriate supplies on hand is essential to success. The rule of thumb is that students should have approximately 10 minutes of homework per grade level (8th grade=80 minutes). Larger projects are usually assigned weeks or at least days in advance, often with class time dedicated to them. Students who write their assignments in planners and work on them daily do much better than those who wait until the last minute.

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