Simple Ways to Make Homework Time Less Stressful

As you wash the dinner plates and start winding down for the evening, you check in with your child to ensure their homework is completed and packed in their binder. Unfortunately, instead of the assurance you’re hoping your child will give you, your child sheepishly informs you, “I forgot to do it,” or lets you know a big poster project is due the next day. You’d love nothing more than to jump on your social accounts, but instead, you’re jumping in your car to drive to the store for poster board and markers.

Why do some children resist doing homework?

While some students independently exercise the discipline to complete their homework, many haven’t fully learned time management and planning. After a long school day of paying attention, reading, writing, classwork, and tests, children naturally want to do what feels more fun, like playing outside with friends or watching a favorite TV show.

What can I do to make homework time less of a battle?

You want your children to learn to self-start and fear them experiencing failure for not completing homework, but you dread the homework tug-of-war. Fortunately, there are some steps you and your children can take together to make homework time less stressful. Here are a few tips:

  1. Get your child involved in making a homework plan. Sit down together and discuss a regular homework schedule that considers your child’s need for a snack, outside play, or an unwind period after school. Help your child understand schedule constraints that may limit their time to complete homework such as extracurriculars. Write the schedule together and add some self-rewards, such as playing a favorite game or doing a preferred activity after finishing the work. Intrinsic rewards are stronger shapers of behavior than extrinsic rewards like money, toys, or candy. Your child will learn that hard work feels good, and play feels even better when work is finished.
  2. Have a designated work space and all school supplies organized and accessible to your child. Have you ever sent your child on a quest to find a pencil only to have the task take 20 minutes? Give your children plastic bins or containers to put paper, pencils, markers, scissors, glue, and other items they regularly use for school work. Let your child find a good place to keep the supply box for quick access to their supplies.
  3. Make sure your child is getting enough sleep each night. A report released by the CDC in 2021 showed staggering results: a third of children ages 4 months to 17 years were not getting enough sleep each night. Sleep is essential for young minds and bodies to renew, be primed for learning, and function optimally to problem solve and regulate emotions. A more rested child will be better prepared to tackle homework than a sleep-deprived child.
  4. Make time to let your child relax. When the school year is in full swing, daily schedules can become a blur of school, extracurriculars, and homework, leaving children with little time for unstructured play and exploration. Time for kids to be kids is vital for their development and to have an outlet for stress and extra energy. When it’s time to sit down and do homework, your child will likely be more compliant if they’ve had time to decompress.
  5. Keep calm. If you are getting upset while your child is resisting homework, calmly explain your expectations and walk away. If you escalate, your child also will, and the likelihood of anything getting accomplished will be less. Instead, remind your child that you can aid them when they are calm, but that ultimately, the homework is their responsibility.

While it may be hard for you to let go, the natural consequence of the teacher asking, “Where’s your homework?” may be enough to give your child pause to reflect and make a different choice the next time homework is assigned.

Using these easy strategies, we think you’ll find homework time less stressful as you encourage your child towards greater self-sufficiency. At Adaptively, we are committed to developing interactive supplemental education to help students work towards a successful school year and develop a life-long love for learning.