Does your child take too long to do homework?
If I had a dollar for every time I heard a parent lament family stress related to homework, I’d be a wealthy teacher! Homework blues are a common woe faced by parents of students of all ages. The remedy for helping students complete their homework efficiently seems to elude us all. As I work with students and draw out their responses, I believe I’ve uncovered the answer to a question so many parents wrestle with: Why does my child take so long to finish their homework?? And the answer I hear most often from students themselves is…distractions!
Here’s the scenario: distractions cause homework time to drag out unproductively. That results in later bedtimes, which of course creates tired students who can’t performing at their best throughout the day…which makes their homework take even longer. It’s a futile cycle—like the proverbial hamster wheel.
The inevitable result of this relentless drama is stress in family relationships. And in this day and age, families don’t need added stressors in their relationships with their children!
Most anyone who is a parent is all too familiar with the picture I’ve described. So, what’s the solution? I’d like to offer a “Golden Remedy.”
Make homework time into a daily, competitive game.
In this challenging “game,” students compete against themselves. Here’s what it looks like:
Before beginning homework, students take two minutes to write a list of that day’s subjects and assignments. Next to each assignment, write an estimate of how long that assignment ought to take to complete. Then, set an alarm for that amount of time. Ready? Get set. GO! Try to beat the alarm!
The subtle beauty of this race against the clock is that it encourages students to remain intensely focused on the assignment, resulting in better results and more effective learning, in addition to more efficient use of time.
For younger children…
Parents can help with setting a timer.
For older students…
Their #1 distractor is the variety of electronics and social media they have at their fingertips, especially the irresistible tug of their cell phones. The allure of those little, musical alerts is too powerful for many students to resist Consider making homework time a phone-free zone altogether or keeping the phone on silent. Brainstorming a solution together with them will give them ownership of the plan and greater motivation to make it work.
Not only can this strategy help to heal families’ homework blues, but it also teaches our children an effective time management game they can use successfully for the rest of their lives!