Have you set yourself up for endless hours of sitting with your children and nagging them to get their homework done or having to work through every single problem with them?
Here are a few easy steps and tips to get out of that habit. Set up a regular homework time and place. Set expectations for that time, such as working for 15 minutes then taking a short break or completing all of an assignment before a break. Depending on the age of your child, be nearby but not next to them. Or be next to them, but working on your own work. It helps develop their independence. Some children will need more gradual backing off of parental and teacher support, but the earlier you can do this the more independent they will become. I often suggest to parents to let a child get started on their work and ask for help when they need it rather than a parent unpacking the backpack and reading the directions to the child.
When a child asks for help, have them explain or read aloud the directions to you then tell you the part they need help with. Often they will answer their own question just by doing that and it teaches them strategies. Literally, some parents need to say “I’m busy stirring this dish, can you read the directions to me?” Or they can say “Put a checkmark next to that problem and try another one. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Part of your expectation for homework time might be that they use a checklist or agenda then show you what they have completed. Every child is different. Every situation is different. In general, we are wanting to teach our children and grandchildren independence. We teach them how to clean up their toys before we expect them to clean up a whole room or house. We teach them to work on their math a few problems at a time or to read independently for 10 minutes before we expect them to complete a whole science project or read for an hour. When they look like they are off task, ask “do you need help or time” and give them a moment to ponder that. Sometimes what looks like off task behavior is merely thinking through something. Other times, the question alone serves to get them back to what they need. Encourage a child to ask for help unless their asking is a way to get out of doing their work. Then set some boundaries.
Table Talk: What expectations do you have of your child during homework time? What expectations does your child have of you?