It’s difficult to say whether parents or kids dread homework more. Nowadays, everyone has busy schedules, the kids have a million extracurricular activities and there’s so much homework. Even the kindergartners bring work home. It can be daunting for even the most experienced parents.
Before you pass out, take a deep breath. Homework doesn’t have to be a battle. We spoke with New Jersey educational experts to get their advice, just in time for the start of the school year. Read on for their top suggestions to reduce stress and get through homework with ease.
1. Give Yourselves A Breather
As soon as the family meets up in the evening, parents tend to dive into homework for fear of never finishing. But give children 20 to 30 minutes to unwind before hitting the books, say experts. “Allow your kids time to decompress and have fun before jumping into homework,” says Alexandra Mayzler, founder and director of Thinking Caps Group, a tutoring company in New York City, Long Island and northern New Jersey.
2. Make A Game Of It
Homework can seem pointless at times but it can actually help your child to develop. Show them what you mean by relating what they are learning to real life. Mayzler suggests using a globe and flashlight when working on moon cycles or relating fractions to baking cookies, for example. Studying history can come to life with a trip to the museum on the weekend. Whenever you can, point out lessons from the classroom being applied in real life.
3. Break down assignments into manageable pieces.
Staring down that pile of books on the table can be overwhelming. “There is a reason this generation of children is called ‘Generation Stress,’” says Jessica Bush, owner of Tutor Doctor of North Jersey. “The workloads can often seem insurmountable. The key is to be supportive and to let them know it is okay to ask for help.” Suggesting they focus on one part of homework at a time can make getting through it all easier. Crossing items off as they complete them can also give kids a sense of accomplishment. Indeed, Mayzler suggests making it a lesson in time management. After pulling an all-nighter or not finishing an assignment on time, your child will learn the importance of sticking to a schedule and avoiding procrastination.
4. Let Your Kid Make Mistakes
This might be the most important lesson for parents, according to educators. “The number one mistake of homework is doing it for your child,” says Mayzler. “Allow your child the time to do it on his own, follow up, and correct mistakes together.” Give your children encouragement and look over their work, but give them the chance to complete it themselves.
5. Refrain From Showing Your Frustration.
Tensions can run high when mom and dad are helping junior with homework. Maybe it’s taking too long and everyone is tired. Or you expect your kid to understand the concepts before hitting the books, and they just don’t get it. Before you know it, you’ve lost your patience. The experts say you have to remain calm and defuse the situation. “Your kids have enough going on,” says Bush. “They don’t need to worry about pressure from their parents too.” She suggests taking a step back, letting your kids work out problems on their own and only stepping in when necessary.
6. Ask For Help When You Need It
Teaching methods change all the time. You might be able to arrive at the right answers but not in the way your child is learning (or that the teacher wants to see). Or you have been out of school so long that you just don’t remember certain concepts. All the experts will tell you to make this a lesson in asking for help. Rather than figuring it out and doing it for your kids, help them navigate their options. “Not remembering the Pythagorean theorem is a great place to start a conversation about finding tools to have questions answered in the future,” says Mayzler.
7. Bring In An Outsider When Necessary
Sometimes parent and child don’t make the best team. The realization can be jarring. But you just might be too personally invested, and that’s okay. There is no shame in hiring a tutor or asking the teacher for extra help. “Parents are more to their children than homework helpers,” says Mayzler. “If you’re feeling stuck on the homework process and it is becoming a battleground, get help. Sometimes having an outside individual’s help makes all the difference.”
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