Tips for Reducing Homework Stress

Just the thought of homework can fill children and their parents with anxiety. Problems arise for a variety of reasons. The students may have weak homework skills or may be confused by the teachers' or parents' expectations. Too much homework can cause problems, too. The resulting issues can lead to all kinds of trouble. From family fights to low scores to little academic progress, homework can be the cause of many obstacles. If you are a parent who desires to make homework manageable as well as productive, changes can be made to alleviate the burden of homework on you and your child.


Find out why your child cannot easily complete homework assignments.

A red flag should go up if your child needs help to complete homework. One main cause of homework stress comes from a child's feeling of incompetence. When a child feels like his or her skills do not measure up, he or she may become frustrated and even begin to avoid the work that needs to be done. Confront this problem by talking with your child first. You may learn that the assignment is, in fact, too difficult. Unclear directions can cause problems, too. On the other hand, the information or skills taught during class may not have gotten through to your child. If your child genuinely does not comprehend how to complete the work, contact the teacher and ask for him or her to explain the task and allow the child a second chance to complete it without penalty. Contacting the teacher provides invaluable information about your student. Such information can help the teacher re-evaluate the assignment or modify the approach required for teaching the skills for which the homework is geared.

Homework assignments can be a large portion of a grade earned for a course, or it can be minuscule. Falling behind on assignments can be devastating because a student may miss out on the grade and the skills won't be practiced either. Students who chronically fail to complete assignments may jeopardize their grades. If this is your child, be aware of the class's homework policy. Know how such assignments are graded and what percentage of the course's grade comes from homework. Additionally, you should know if missing assignments can be turned in late for partial credit. Use your school's online gradebook to monitor what has not been completed by your child. If this service is unavailable in your district, request that the teacher provide you with weekly updates of what your child is missing.


Address excessive homework concerns with the teacher.

Too much homework can be a problem. Leaders in education, such as the National Education Association and the National PTA, advocate for the 10-mintue rule. This suggests a child spend no more than 10 minutes per grade level on nightly homework, meaning first graders should not have more than 10 minutes of homework; second graders, 20 minutes, etc. Even when a high school senior studying six subjects, your child should spend no more than two hours on all the classes' homework combined.

It's true that children vary in the speed it takes to complete assignments. Some work may take one child 10 minutes to complete; another, 30 minutes or more. Gauging the time required for an assignment can be challenging for teachers, so it's important to inform the teacher when you feel the time being spent on assignments seems excessive.


Inquire about adaptations for your child.

Most teachers have had experience with educating special education students who often require modified or adapted homework assignments. Shortening the length of the assignment is one way teachers help meet some of those children's needs. While laws ensure students with learning disabilities are given these accommodations, other students may qualify for similar assistance through a 504 Plan. If your child is being treated for conditions such as attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety, your child may qualify. Speak with your student's teacher or guidance counselor for more information. When trouble focusing on homework becomes a chronic problem and your interventions don't seem to be working, speak with the school's professionals to determine if an outside expert is recommended.

Keep in mind that individuals fluctuate on their drive to finish homework assignments. Life events take a toll on youngsters, leaving them worn out and too tired to concentrate on homework. If a major life event has occurred, hindering your student from completing homework, communicate your concern with the teacher to work out a reasonable plan for your child's needs.


It's not your homework.

When the assignments given to your child are both appropriate and manageable, leave your child to complete it without your guidance. Tell your child how proud you are that he or she can work independently. Assure him or her that you'll continue to proof written assignments and check simple mathematics assignments or even help clarify the instructions. Plus, you can give assurance that you'll communicate with the teacher if something about the assignment isn't understood.

To facilitate independent homework time, allow your child some control over where and when homework will be done. The kitchen table may be the first area that comes to mind when selecting a workspace, but some experts warn that adults are usually too close in proximity to the child here, making the "need" for help convenient. To encourage independence, make the workspace a place where the child must physically move to request help. Quiet places work for some learners, but others concentrate better when their environment is busy. Some prefer to work while listening to music. If that's what it takes to get independent and accurate work from your child, it's worth a shot, even if the work may take longer to complete in this way. When establishing a workspace, ask your child what supplies are needed in the workspace. Don't forget to establish a designated spot for completed homework. Doing so will help speed up your routine for leaving in the morning.

The time for homework is when your child most easily learns. When will your child be able to focus best? Immediately after school? Following dinner? No matter when it gets completed, homework should not overlap into one's bedtime routine. Sleep should not be put off for class assignments.


Seek balance in family life.

School takes up a major portion of your child's day. Homework helps strengthen learners' skills, but academics need a rest during the day, too. Children also benefit from playing, engaging in hobbies, enjoying family time, and having downtime.

Downtime is needed by children and adults alike. We need to recharge for the next day, and that means allowing the brain rest as it processes all the day's events. Whether one listens to music, watches TV, or takes an hour to prepare for bed, these activities are good for the mind. Make sure your child has enough downtime to recharge.

If you notice downtime happens only on rare occasions, then your child may be overscheduled. You may have to limit the number of activities with which he or she is involved. Cutting out something may be what's needed to make homework less stressful. Get your child's input on which activity can be put aside for the time being.

Remember that you are not just a parent, but you are also an advocate for your child. One of your main priorities in life is to maximize quality family time with your loved ones. Do all you can to alleviate homework stress from your household, but keep in mind that the school's professionals are there to help.