If your household is plagued by homework battles, rest assured, you’re not alone. You may feel like the only way homework gets done is through nagging. Or perhaps the levels of frustration, for both you and your child, are through the roof as you work through the activities together. Creating a consistent, predictable, homework routine may help alleviate your family’s homework woes.
“After school restraint collapse” is a term that’s receiving more attention. It’s used to help understand the meltdowns some children have at home after school. Children may be highly emotional, prone to tantrums, or even defiant when they arrive home from school. The reason for this “collapse” is that these children have been working very hard all day to keep it together while they’re at school. Once they get home to a safe place with the people they’re most comfortable with, they feel exhausted and just can’t hold it together any longer. Children who face challenges with things like anxiety or ADHD may be even more prone to this after school reaction. Now let’s imagine that amidst all of this, you ask your child to do his homework. Uh oh.
You know your child best and can determine if she needs a break when she gets home from school. A snack and some time outside may be just what she needs before she thinks about doing more school work. Scheduling that down time may help alleviate some of the battles around homework. You can also think about whether your child would be more successful if she had breaks built into her homework time, particularly for longer activities. You can schedule breaks after a certain amount of time or after a certain amount of work is completed.
Consider choosing a consistent location where homework gets done in your house. It may be at the kitchen table, while you’re making dinner. Perhaps there is a desk for your child to use. Making sure you have supplies on hand like pencils, erasers, and paper, will eliminate any last-minute scrambles with completing homework.
For families that are busy with after-school activities, finding a consistent time to complete homework can be tricky. You may have two schedules in mind: Plan A for when you’re home in the evenings and Plan B for when you’re running off to sports, music, or other activities. Plan B may require that homework gets done right after school or later in the evening after returning home. Giving kids the heads-up about what their schedule looks like may curb the protesting after school when you bring up the topic of homework.
Homework battles are also created when the work is too challenging. If you think about it, spending all day working on things that are hard, only to come home and have to do some more difficult work, is not a recipe for success. If your child is struggling with the tasks coming home, approach his teacher about these challenges. Perhaps modifications are possible for the type of homework or the amount of homework he’s receiving.
Hopefully setting clear expectations, with your child’s needs in mind, will help cure the homework woes in your house. The addition of a little structure and predictability can make significant changes to a child’s day.
Written by: Erin Agnello, BA/BEd/OCT
Edited & Designed by: Christina Denham
My name is John Haber. I’m a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founder of Nogginsland. I became a COTA in 2003, and then went back to school much later, receiving my Master’s Degree in OT from Mercy College in New York in 2016.
Over the years, I’ve worked with a variety of populations in different settings, from school districts, to developmental disability centers, to children’s hospitals.