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First, I want to briefly state where I stand on the issue of homework before I jump into the tips to help when your child hates homework and it takes too long. It might surprise you.
I’m an expert in the field of education who strongly believes there’s too much homework and it’s not always serving a good purpose. I believe students would perform the same- if not better- without additional worksheets or writing definitions after their school day. I believe homework is best for reading (a book of choice), review for tests, or making up missed assignments.
That may not be the most popular opinion but I have yet to find current research that proves otherwise, especially for younger students. I don’t think it’s any surprise that the Texas teacher’s “No Homework” letter went viral last year. It becomes a hot topic because people feel passionately about it on both sides.
Regardless of how you or I feel about homework, it’s important to support the teacher and his or her policies. As parents, we all want our children to have a great school experience and be successful.
So what can you do when your child hates homework and it takes too long?
I don’t have a perfect “this will fix it” solution, but I can offer these 5 tips to help when your child hates homework and it takes too long.
1. When it’s taking too long, reach out to the teacher… asap.
How long is too long? While every assignment is different and kids work at different paces, you can generally compare the amount of time it should take to their grade level/age as a rule of thumb, such as:
- Kindergarten/1st grade- 10 minutes
- 2nd grade- 20 minutes
- 3rd grade- 30 minutes
- 4th grade- 40 minutes
- 5th grade- 50 minutes
and so forth.
Some kids work at a slower/faster pace so this is just a guide, but if you have a 3rd grade child who is taking 2 hours or longer each evening to do homework, that’s way too long. That’s going to quickly cause burn out for you and your child. Don’t wait. Talk to the teacher.
Ask the teacher about how long, on average, the daily homework assignments should take. If you and the teacher agree that the assignments are taking longer than they should, then come up with some solutions together. If you can pinpoint that it’s a certain assignment, ask for an alternative. Ask if an assignment can be shorter or done in a different way for your child’s unique learning needs (for example, the choice to type responses instead of writing them.)
It’s important to talk to the teacher to see if this is also true in the classroom. It may or may not mean that there’s more to it than a child who hates homework. These conversations could lead to discovering another underlying issue, such as attention deficit disorder, or a specific learning disability such as dysgraphia or dyslexia. If you think this might be a possibility, the website Understood.org is a great starting place for more information and resources.
If your child already has a diagnosed medical condition that impairs their ways of learning (sensory disorder, ADHD, migraines, etc) there are state and federal laws that can help when it comes to flexibility with school and homework assignments. The infographic below, from Understood.org, gives an overview of one of the federal laws called the 504 plan.
2. Stay positive and encouraging when it comes to time to do homework.
Find the most motivating things you can come up with when it comes time to get homework done. Even if it’s cheesy and your teenager is not buying it, positive words of encouragement are going to put them in a better frame of mind.
Think of the boss who gives the same assignment to two different groups of her team members. She tells one group “I know this will be hard but we’re prepared and we can do it.” To the other group she says “Corporate just sent another thing we have to do as if we don’t have enough already.” Even if they both need to get the same results, one is clearly a more motivating way to approach the assignment!
Our words can have a drastic impact on our kids’ mindset!
3. Get creative and negotiate to get it done.
Our child is young and one of the ongoing weekly assignments is to review the sight words they are learning in class. Instead of using flash cards or pulling them out every night for review, we simply write them on the bathtub that week. I’ll make up silly sentences or try to turn it into a game.
You could try using a timer and giving an incentive to play a game/iPad/computer after homework is done with older kids. Kids will usually negotiate and ask if they can have more time if they get it done sooner. My response to that would be… as long as it’s complete and neat, go for it!
Some kids (ages 6-12) work better when you set an incentive together and monitor it with check marks or stickers until they meet their goals. I have two different templates you can use for this in the free resource library. It’s worth a try!
4. Set up a homework environment that works best for your child’s personality.
I’m going to go against the advice you’ve probably always heard here to set up a quiet, distraction-free place for your child to do his or her homework. That is perfectly fine if that’s where and how your child learns best. But, if your teenager is more productive when attached to ear buds… go with it! Adapt the environment to one that works best for your child’s personality… whatever works!
5. Establish homework routines.
Establish some consistent routines when it comes to homework such as:
- Where to find homework supplies
- Times that will/will not work with your family’s schedule
- Putting completed homework where it goes in the backpack/folder
A few routines in place will make it easier to reduce homework frustration and make it more manageable.
Please share any tips you’ve found to help when your child hates homework and it takes too long! We’re always looking for ways to make life easier and getting homework done quickly- with no tears or complaints- is definitely going to make life more enjoyable 🙂