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Solution: Homework Avoidance

by Mrs. C. | April 20th, 2012 | Parenting Predicament

This week we provide the solution to the predicament:

My 6-year-old son resists doing homework. I let him play after school for a while, and then I ask him to sit down to do homework while I make dinner. The homework is a little challenging for him, but not overwhelmingly so. It feels more like a power struggle. I’ve tried checking in every 2 minutes, setting a timer, all withholding tv after dinner, all to no avail. What else can I do?

Mrs. C., a veteran elementary teacher of 25 years, has the following advice:

First of all, when you say that homework is challenging but not overwhelming, my first reaction to that is just how challenging? If it appears too challenging for a first grader, talk with the teacher and ask her what the expectations are for a first grader at this time of the year regarding homework. Also, it is always a good first step to discuss any homework issues with your child’s teachers. Sometimes, a chat with the teacher is all it takes to rectify reluctance or struggles with homework.

As a veteran second grade teacher, when parents tell me that they are having trouble at home getting their child to do their homework, I tell the parents to set the timer for the expected amount of time it should take to get homework done. In my case and in my district, the expectation is 20 minutes top. For my students, I tell parents to set the timer, and once the time goes off, the amount of homework done is what the child turns into the teacher. At that point, you are putting the consequence of not doing the homework in a timely fashion onto the child. In my case, the child stays in with me at recess and completes the homework independently in class instead of at home. From my experience, one time of staying inside during recess usually does the trick.

If that is not a comfortable option for your family, then another idea is to find something simple that your child would like such, as a new book or a new small toy or a trip to the ice cream stand etc. Make a chart that contains the five days of week or the number of days per week that your child gets homework. Place a sticker for each day that you do not have to argue or coax him to do his homework. Discuss how this will work, but that is it. No chances, no more encouraging or reminders. To earn that sticker, he must get his work done without incident, period. You can set whatever boundaries you choose such as trying it out for a month. Hopefully then homework will become automatic, and you will no longer have nightly struggles! Good luck!

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