5 Tips to Make Homework Less Stressful for Everyone
Homework Hour: It Doesn't Have to Be the Worst Part of the Day
I remember when my kids were infants and I was warned of the "witching hour"—that time late in the afternoon when the wheels fall off the bus, your infant who has behaved perfectly all day is suddenly completely inconsolable, and you have no idea how to soothe your little bundle of joy.
Enter the school-aged years. While all the stuff of baby-hood has long been gone from our house, the witching hour remains—it's just called homework hour now!
After a long day at school, after-school activities, and everything else that makes up a day in the life of an elementary schooler, homework is the LAST thing they want to sit down and do. How often are you faced with tears, and frustration, and a willingness by your kids to do ANYTHING but their homework after school?
But what if there were just a few simple steps you could take to make this time with your kids so much less stressful (for everyone) and maybe even enjoyable?
5 Tips for Making Homework Time Enjoyable for Everyone!
1. Transition Time. Have a defined transition from "school time" to "home time". Ok—this is totally a concept I have borrowed from when my kids were babies and "transitions" were a big deal. When your kids come home from school, have a few routines that they do every day to signal to them that they're now at home. These can include:
- Emptying their backpacks of lunch bags, water bottles, extra clothes, anything else that came home from school that won't be needed the next day
- Taking care of any permission forms or other "administrative" tasks that need to be done for the next day
- Setting out homework and everything else that needs to get done that night
2. Get Comfy. Now that the kids have put away the remnants of their school day, the transition to "home time" can continue with a change of clothes. My kids wear a uniform to school, so they love to change into comfy clothes. Or, if they've had an activity, it's nice to change into clean clothes!
3. Food and Hydration. Have the kids sit down at the place where they do their homework—my kids like to do theirs at the kitchen table. And make sure that they have a healthy snack and water to drink beside them. Sometimes, we're sitting down to homework closer to dinner time than after school time . . . no problem! Put out a small plate of fruit or veggies for them to snack on - you'll be amazed at what they end up eating. Choosing to not give them sugary snacks or drinks like juice, will help them to settle into their work - not pump them full of unnecessary energy from the sugar!
4. Set a Timer. Kid or adult, no one likes to sit down to a task with no end in sight. For kids that might be struggling a bit, homework time can seem like an eternity! So set a timer for a small chunk of time—try 15 minutes for little kids or 25 minutes for older ones. When the timer goes off, let them have a 5-minute break, and then sit them down for the next 15 or 25 minutes.
What do you do in those 5 minutes? Put on a song on your phone and have a dance party! Let them use the washroom. Refill water cups or snack plates. Basically anything that isn't related to the homework, and that doesn't involve a screen (computers, gaming systems, phones, iPads etc).
5. Have a "reward" ready for when their homework's done. You might have noticed that in no point in this after school routine have I mentioned anything about watching tv or using devices or playing games. That's because . . . that's the reward for getting your homework done well. You'll be amazed at how motivated your kids will be to get their homework done when they can't use their devices till after their done!
It may take a few days to settle into this new routine. And if your kids have been coming home and "transitioning" by watching tv or gaming, it may take a little bit for them to get used to the idea that that doesn't happen until later in the night.
But after those first few days, you'll see how homework time can go from the "witching hour" to "dream time".
5 Ways to Fill That 5-Minute Study Break
When the timer goes off and your kids have a 5-minute study break, what do you do with them?
Well, you DON'T let them use a screen. TVs, iPads, gaming systems, and phones will be next to impossible to take away from your kids after just 5 minutes.
So here are 5 things you can do with them instead:
- Have a dance party! Put on your favourite song and dance away. This is especially fun when you join in on the dance party!
- Dance party not their thing, no problem! Have them do some kind of physical activity for 5 minutes. See if they can do 10 jumping jacks in each minute of the break. Or, if you have more than one kid, see who can do the most jumping jacks during the break.
- Re-fill water bottles, or grab some more fruit or veggies.
- Have them help you in the kitchen. Use this time to throw some snacks in their lunch bags for the next day, or even spend a few minutes helping with dinner preparations.
- Get them to get ready for the next day. There's nothing better than having everything ready to go the night before!