The Dilemma of La Tarea:
Latino families take homework very seriously, and that’s good. However, it’s important to be thoughtful and flexible about homework. There is no concrete evidence indicating that homework, at the elementary and middle school years, is academically beneficial. In fact, too much homework can have negative consequences, such as student and parental frustration and less time for extra-curricular activities. Yet, students these days come home with hours of homework, projects and assignments. To handle the stress of homework, we offer some solutions.
Tips for Taking the “Work” Out of Homework
To ease the daily homework grind, we’ve put together a list of consejitos to help you and your child make homework time as peaceful and productive as possible. No more screaming or shouting, or tears of frustration.
Establish a Daily Routine
Children thrive under structure and routine. Encourage your child to do homework at the same time every day. Doing homework right after arriving from school (and after a snack) is best, to avoid fatigue and distraction later on.
Know the Teacher’s Expectations
Some teachers take homework very seriously. Others are more relaxed about it. Find out what your child’s teacher’s expectations on homework are. If you child is in the lower grades, discuss with the teacher how involved he/she wants you to be with homework. Does he wants you to correct your child’s answers? Does she wants to see your child’s mistakes to evaluate areas that deserve more attention in the classroom?
Control Your Emotions
Homework time can be quite stressful, especially if your child needs constant reminders and homework monitoring. Try to keep your cool if your child is not cooperative. Screaming, angry outbursts or threats are counterproductive. Take a few minutes off from it. By simply asking “What’s making homework difficult for you today…are you tired? feeling frustrated?” you’ll be able to re-align with your child on her feelings about homework.
Homework Environment Matters
With computers, televisions, video games and music gadgets around the home, your child’s attention is constantly competing with several sources of distraction. Dedicate a quiet, clean, organized and peaceful space for your child to sit and do homework. Create the space necessary to have his textbooks, pencils and schools supplies all in one place. Make sure there is good lighting and that room temperature is adequate. Encourage your child to do her homework in the same place or spot everyday, this will facilitate your child’s engagement and establish good routine.
Balance Help and Autonomy
Make yourself (or someone else) available to coach your child with homework. However, foster confidence in your child’s ability to independently do his homework. Help your chld feel empowered by coaching him through the assignment process; resist offering the answers or solutions right away.
Monitor Homework Time
Explore how much time your child is spending on homework assignments. The amount of time spent on homework depends on the age of the child. If your second grader is taking hours to finish his homework, speak with his teacher. Could it be possible that the homework assignments are unrealistic? Or, is your child struggling with concepts learned in the classroom? And, don’t be afraid to limit your child’s homework to a specified amount of time, regardless of whether or not she has completed all the homework. This will help you protect your child from feeling tired and frustrated. Consult the teacher if you notice homework is taking too long.
Use Homework Help Online
Online homework help sites have become increasingly popular among middle school and high school students. Review some of the most popular sites and bookmark them on your computer. These sites offer videos, tutorials and explanations of concepts across a wide range of courses. Here’s a list of the 100 Best Websites for Free Homework.
Know When to Get Help
If your child is seriously struggling with homework (i.e., complains, procrastinates, becomes easily frustrated, non-compliant), get help. Meet with your child’s teacher or enlist the help of a tutor. You can also locate after school homework clubs in your community, where students can receive individualized help with their homework.
Remember, you may not have control over your child’s homework assignment, but you can certainly make homework time less stressful and enjoyable.