For many families, the hustle and bustle of the after-school time can be stressful for both parents and children. Kids come home, want a snack, and need to get the wiggles and giggles out while we as parents are trying to accomplish those last minute things that need to be done for the day. Homework is just another stressor that all too often gets thrown into the mix and can cause anxiety and frustration for everyone involved. Homework can be useful for many purposes; however, spending great lengths of time working on homework and increasing feelings of frustration are negatives that far outweigh the benefits.
If your child struggles with completing homework assignments and managing anxiety or frustration due to homework or school in general, here are a few strategies that you can use to make the after school hours at home more enjoyable for everyone in the family:
-Take time to decompress! When children or parents arrive home from school or work, it is important for everyone to have some decompression time. When the kids get off the bus, let them have a snack and do some activities that they enjoy like playing outside or going for a nature walk. As parents, it is important for us to do the same. When you get home, sit down in your favorite chair for even a few minutes and relax after your day. This decompression time allows all of us to relax after our busy day, and helps to reduce built up anxiety or stress that may have occurred during the day so that we can recharge our batteries for the rest of the day.
-Check out what is in your child’s backpack. It is sometimes difficult to know just how much homework our children have when they arrive home from school. Checking out their backpacks can give us a quick indication of what will need to be accomplished before bedtime rolls around. By doing this, you can also decide how you want to structure the evening for your child. If he or she has quite a bit of homework, then starting homework time earlier and building in breaks throughout the evening will be helpful, and will make the homework seem more manageable.
-If it’s overwhelming, then reduce it altogether! I have heard concerns from many families about the amounts of homework their children bring home each night. The homework may be overwhelming to a neurotypical child; but for kids with neurodevelopmental disorders, it can be unbearable. If you think your child’s homework assignments are too much, then reduce them yourself. Instead of having your child do 20 math problems, have him or her do only 5. If your child needs to write 5 paragraphs, have him or her write only 3. By reducing assignments, you can make week day evenings more manageable for everyone. Be sure to contact your child’s teacher as well when you reduce assignments at home; and let them know why you made the reduction, and see if you can come up with a more manageable homework plan.
-Build in breaks. Everyone needs break times when they are focusing hard on any homework or work related assignments. When our children are sitting at the table doing homework, it is important to build in breaks for them as well. By doing this, they will not only be more productive during their work time, but may also feel less anxious or overwhelmed about the amount of work that needs to be done. Short 10-15 minute breaks can be very powerful tools during homework. Taking a quick walk around the house or going out to get the mail can be very helpful during homework time.
Homework can make life stressful for everyone, parents and children alike; but it doesn’t have to be that way. By incorporating a few of the strategies listed above, you can make homework time more enjoyable and more effective for everyone involved. Keep in mind that children also need time to be children at home, and to enjoy the company of the family.