How to Break the Cycle
As our name states, we are not just concerned with helping our children to learn.
We are concerned with helping our children become self-motivated and happy learners. We want to help you create a home environment that helps your child learn… with enjoyment.
This article is full of great tips to help alleviate homework born stress in your home. For more information on the purpose of homework and working with the schools to manage your child's workload and progress, please listen to our homework podcast.
Saying No to Homework is it ever OK?
These days, it seems that we are busier than ever and so are our children. We fill each day with continuous activities and goals. Even our down time must be planned.
Children are no exception. They have long days at school, after school activities, homework and possibly even active social lives. Stress overwhelms all of us as we try to fit it all in.
What is your first reaction, on an average weekday evening when your child announces there is homework due tomorrow and they need help?
Are you already tired from a long day at work? Are you thinking you still have to make dinner for the family? Do your stress levels climb as you know there are already ten other things that must be done before midnight?
Do you feel guilty that your first, natural response was that helping them with their homework just seems like more work for you?!
Personally, I manage long days with a checklist. I remind myself that if I can just get through these last few things, I can rest. Adding anything to that list becomes a challenge to control my annoyance. By dinnertime, I am usually very tired which makes dealing with anything I wasn’t planning irritating.
We know we need to sit with our children and help them. We WANT to help them. But sometimes, an hour or more seems like an eternity… especially when the little angel isn’t cooperating.
It can be a real challenge to swallow one's frustration over their procrastination.
You may even feel like this lack of motivation is precisely why they aren't doing better in school. Before you get carried away with thinking in this way and wishing your child would just sit down and do their homework properly and without complaint...
Maybe there is more going on than you realise.
It’s time to re-frame the debate and ask some questions as to why our child is resisting their homework!
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does your child find the work at school too hard?
Are they resisting their homework because the work is too difficult and they just switch off?
Homework may be another reminder or even a reflection of the other difficulties they may be facing in school. Often children internalise school related stress and their quiet behaviour is perceived as good behaviour in school. However, at home this can come out in frustration and a refusal to do homework.
If this is the case, make sure you praise your child and work hard on being as encouraging as possible. It may seem trivial to you but it really means a lot to your child.
Start by focusing more on their self-esteem and not so much on the actual homework. Give loads of encouragement and use scaffolding* (see at the end of the document) techniques to help them.
It is all too easy to get into a conversation with other parents about our children’s progress in school.
All children learn at their own pace and comparisons are unhelpful. And please remember that it is highly likely our children are already comparing themselves to the classmates already. It is important to help our children understand why these types of comparisons are dangerous and help them feel secure with who they are and have confidence that they can get to where they want to be.
Fostering a positive attitude towards genuine learning is much more important than learning the fastest. Homework is not a competition.
2. Is your child exhausted?
Does your child do too much in the day and not get enough sleep at night?
It is tempting to sign our children up for anything and everything they show an interest in as there is so much on offer for our children to do after school. Over-scheduling can lead to anxiety and exhaustion.
It is absolutely necessary to ensure your child has an adequate amount of downtime after school. This is simply essential.
Think about how we unwind? If we don’t have any downtime, how do we feel? Most children are tired after school mentally and physically.
They may need a short time to unwind and play, read a book or watch TV for a short while before they tackle their homework. Or if they prefer to do their homework straight away, make sure they have downtime afterwards.
A regular bedtime and enough rest really makes it possible for children remain alert and focused on their daily tasks. This remains true for older children… and adults too!
3. Do they simply have too much homework?
How much time does your child spend doing homework every night?
Guidelines for homework in the UK were scrapped in 2012, after complaints that homework limited family time together and 'the real ways kids learn'. The original guidelines suggested children aged five to seven should be set an hour of homework a week, rising to half-an-hour a night for seven- to 11-year-olds. Secondary schools were encouraged to set as much as two and-a- half hours a night for children aged 14-16. Read the full Guardian article here. Or even better, listen to our homework podcast when we discuss the idea of parental discretion and your right to say, 'It's too much!'
If your child is showing signs of stress, limit the time your child works on homework to within the guidelines and don’t pile extra coaching on top of this during the week. Giving a tired and stressed child more work 'to help them practice' is never the answer.
It’s really important our children have time to relax. If the homework is just too hard or there is too much - don’t be afraid to discuss this with the teacher concerned. Maybe you have to spend time doing foundational work, or just finding a pace that suits your child’s needs. There are options out there; you just have to find what works for your family.