Do you dread asking your teen about their homework every evening? Do you find it turning into a shouting match or sulk session? How can you get a handle on this area of contention with your family? Here are some ideas to make homework less hated in your house.

Remove distractions.

Is it typical for your child to be doing homework at the kitchen table while a TV is on, siblings are having conversations, and you’re cooking? All the stimuli can make it hard to focus. Your child may not be a fan of a completely quiet space (music may actually help), but consider what sounds and actions need to be removed. One essential item to remove: your child’s phone. Difficult, I know, but consider this next alternative…

Provide rewards as your child meets homework accomplishments.

This could either be in the amount of time spent on the work or subject covered. You’ll have to pick and choose this based on what motivates your teen. For example, if math homework takes over an hour every night and your child gets frustrated and gives up, it may make more sense to break every 20 minutes. But if your bigger issue is actually accomplishing the work, it may be a better idea to take a break after a subject’s work is completed. One reward/break idea: give 5-10 minutes of phone time. They can text, use social media, or play games. An even better reward: send them outside for a walk around the block. Some fresh air will help their brain relax and focus.

It’s important to note: do NOT mix in chores during this time. The breaks should be positive and something for your child to look forward to. Mixing in chores just makes homework a complete dread every day – and won’t help your cause of hating homework less.

Be consistent with homework routines.

This is really the most difficult strategy to deploy because you’re talking about doing homework at the same time in the same location. And let’s be honest, this isn’t realistic with a teen’s busy activity schedule. Find what works best for your family, and at the very least: don’t let a lack of a supply item catch your family off-guard, and ultimately derail the homework completion train. Stock the homework location with potentially needed supplies: pencils, paper, calculator, and poster board…Can we seriously talk about the number of breakdowns we’d avoid by just having poster board on hand? Put it on your grocery list today. 

Do your paperwork during homework time, too.

Sit with your child if the study spot is in a common place (like the kitchen table) and go through mail, pay bills, complete the work you had to bring home, or at the very least: online shopping (hey, they don’t have to see your screen…). Having you physically near them and doing your own work, makes them feel less alone in this battle.

Talk about school/teachers/homework POSITIVELY.

If you dread homework time, obviously your teen will too, so choose a better attitude. And communicate with teachers about how you can help your child in the homework area. Connect with teachers in the way that is easiest for them (phone, email, notes passed via your child). Finally, by middle and high school, parents start to be less helpful with homework because it’s getting so advanced. Support your child by taking him/her to school early or pick up later so he/she can get help from the teacher.

Best of luck as you try to turn the tide of dreaded homework time in your house! What strategies have helped your family cope with homework? Share them in the comments.

  • Maggie Hackwith

    Thanks for the great ideas!