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Homework Help! 9 Tips to Overcome the Battles Before they Start

Submitted by on August 24, 2011 – 3:16 pmNo Comment

by Dr. Minette Riordan

It’s Back to School again and while my kids are excited about seeing their friends, they are dreading the onslaught of homework! In fact, my son came home from school on Day 2 with Math homework. There is no such thing in middle school as a slow start! My biggest battles with my kids during school seem to be around keeping organized and getting homework done before 9pm at night. Here are 9 tips to get you started on the right foot this fall.

1. Make sure the ground rules are set ahead of time for when homework should be completed. Sit down with your child and discuss the rules. Make sure you know what your child needs: a snack, a brief break, an hour to relax, your help, etc. In my house, homework gets done as soon as my kids get home and have a snack. If you are a working parent and your child is in daycare, ask the daycare to ensure they do the bulk of their work after school so you have more time to spend with them at home.

2. Make sure your child has everything from school that they need to complete their homework ahead of time – their planner, the handouts or text books, and the instructions. This is especially true for bigger projects that require project boards, poster boards, shoe boxes or other special materials. If you pick your child up from school, ask them BEFORE getting into the car if they have what they need. My son was infamous for leaving things behind like his spelling words or math book, so I learned the hard way to ask! If they are going to an after-school program, you can remind the teachers to ask if your child struggles with remembering what to bring. Don’t be afraid to ask for teacher support!

3. If there is a lot of homework to be completed, break it up into two parts. Have your child complete the hardest homework first, then let him take a short break to do something he wants to do. When he comes back, he will be refreshed and proud of completing the final assignment easily and swiftly.

4. At open house or in an email, ask the teacher how long the homework should take on average and how much homework they expect to give so you can create an effective plan that suits you and your child.

5. Pick one place in the house where homework will be completed and make sure your child has what they need to get work done: pens, pencils, papers, crayons, quiet, light, etc. In our case, we spent the last weekend of summer vacation making sure our kids’ desks in their bedrooms were ready to go! It’s hard to work at a messy desk, having a clean, organized space will help your child stay focused and have the added benefit of teaching them to keep their own space clean and neat when they go off to college!

6. If they have reading to do, invite them to read out loud to you or sit on the couch and read a book together. Reading together builds connection and communication as well as strengthens skills. If you are reading a book, too, you model for them that reading is fun, not just yucky homework.

7. Have math to learn? Make it fun. Practice addition and subtraction while preparing dinner or driving to soccer practice.

8. If your child is struggling with their homework and seems to be taking forever to complete what may seem simple to you, ask the teacher for help and advice about why your child is struggling. There are great local programs for tutoring at home or in your community. Investigate what will work best for your child and make sure to take advantage of any free tutoring at your school. Sometime just an hour or two of private instruction can help turn the light bulb on for your child.

9. Finally, they should pack their completed homework in their backpack immediately. Not waiting until the next morning means more free time, less scrambling and less screaming that you are going to be late if you don’t leave right now!

What other suggestions do you have? Please share with other parents what has worked in your house.

Interested in sharing this information on your blog or in your newsletter? Feel free to do so as long as you include the following information and link back to this page.  Questions? Email me at

In 2006, Dr. Minette Riordan became certified as a Coach for Parents through the Academy for Parent Coaching International. Dr. Minette Riordan has successfully built a multi-media publishing company targeting families in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. She credits her success to learning how to connect with others through networking, referrals, strategic partnerships and an attitude of service to others first. Her company, Scissortail Publishing, has produced North Texas Kids for 9 years, a magazine targeting parents in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. In June of 2011, she launched a second publication titled byDesign: Your Life, Your Business, targeting women business owners. Her passion and joy come from helping others find the information, tools and inspiration they need to succeed. Minette lives in Plano Texas with her husband, Brad and her two children, ages 12 and 9.

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