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I knew from the time my son started preschool that doing homework with him wasn’t going to be easy. He didn’t want to sit still and he didn’t seem to want to learn anything from me. So I had to take a step back and let his teachers do the heavy lifting, but that doesn’t mean the homework hassles went away or that I didn’t bear the brunt of many meltdowns.

Jayden is quick to get frustrated. Sometimes he gets so upset that he completely shuts down. He just stops listening to my advice, making it hard to help him.

Even though there is no perfect formula to get through homework without any meltdowns here’s what I’m learning through trial and error and also from other moms. Here are six ways to tackle homework battles.

1. Snack Is Critical – Kids are at school for almost seven hours and they are starving when they get home. I always give my kids snack before they have to start their homework. I know they can’t focus if their bellies are growling.

2. Eliminate Distractions – There’s no TV on, no toys on the table and I try my best to keep my toddler from distracting my older two while they’re doing their homework. My son is so easily distracted by anything and it takes him a while to refocus once he is.

3. Be Flexible On Homework Times – I was always insistent with both my children that they had to do their homework right after their afternoon snack. While that has always worked well for my daughter, I’m starting to see that this doesn’t work as well for my son. He really needs to run around and play for a little while before he gets started on his homework.

Other moms in my moms’ group on Facebook also choose different homework times that suit their children best. Some moms find it’s easier for their early rising children to do it in the morning before school. Some moms sit down and help their children after dinner. I’m learning that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another.

4. Set Limits – Several times last year, after my son’s homework meltdown was carrying on for a long time I would insist that he just stop working on it. I offer to write his teacher a note explaining how he was struggling with it. After all, we’re supposed to be supporting each other and if there is something about the lesson he doesn’t understand his teacher needs to know that.

Typically just giving him an out, would give us both time to cool off and he would come to me later insisting he finish the work. The “homework timeout” gave him enough time to calm down so he could listen as I tried to help him or gave him the patience to reread the instructions without his default attitude being, “I can’t do this!” It’s like hitting a reset button.

Other moms set timers and let their kids have a break when it goes off or split it up so they do half their work before dinner, and half after. Sometimes it’s just easier for some kids to do one or two assignments at a time so they don’t get overwhelmed when they have a lot of work.

5. Talk to Your Child’s Teacher – A strong line of communication between you and your child’s teacher is absolutely key to their success when they have trouble with homework. Last year when he was in first grade, my son had too much work in my opinion. There were always five assignments on the list every night and it would take sometimes 45 minutes to an hour for him to get through all of it, and he never made it through without constant prompting to get him to focus.

At our first part/teacher conference, I explained my concerns to his teacher and I was amazed at how understanding she was. I learned right away that I was misreading her homework chart and he was doing one assignment every day that only needed to be completed once a week. She also explained that she didn’t want her homework to take that long and if it took him longer than twenty or thirty minutes to complete then I should let her know. Some kids like my daughter power through homework quickly and others like my son need longer.

6. Give Problem Solving Strategies Instead of Answers – A lot of times when my kids are having trouble with a problem it’s because they misread the directions. If they make a mistake I usually ask them to look at the answer again and reread the question so that they find the mistake themselves. Sometimes having them reread the directions themselves allows them to hear what they missed before.

I also have them reread paragraphs to find the answer or look at similar math problems that they got right to see where they went wrong on a particular question. Even though I know it would be quicker and less frustrating if I just told them the answer, when they get to middle and high school I know there will be times I don’t know the answer. It’s my hope that giving them strategies to help themselves will serve them well, even if it means more of a hassle right now. Plus, they are proud of themselves when they do finally get it.

I’m still learning about the unique learning styles of my kids and I’m trying to be more flexible. I’m hoping to make this year’s homework battles easier to overcome.

How do you help your children when they’re struggling with their homework?

Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama is the author of “So, You’re Broke? 18 Drama-Free Steps To A Richer Life.” She can be found writing for The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not busy caring for her three adorable kiddos. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.

 

 

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