Happy September! For most of you with children school has started or is just around the corner. Is your home and family ‘homework ready?” What I mean by that is, are you mentally and physically prepared to have your kids be successful at tackling their homework once it starts coming home in their backpacks? School supply lists start showing up at stores and in your inboxes as early as July to make sure you have everything you need to send your kids off to school with. I have yet to see one supply list, email or blog post on the topic of preparing for homework.
So because starting back to school can be busy and carpool lines can be stressful, here are 5 quick tips to help you be prepared when your little students come home with a backpack full of homework.
1.) Don’t forget to have a stash of school supplies for at home, too.
When buying a stockpile of pencils, crayons & glue don’t forget to hold a few back for use at home. Keep a pencil case with a few essentials (erasers & pencil sharpeners too!) so you don’t have to rely on your child remembering to lug those items back & forth with them from home. Because when science project or book report time comes around do you really want them having to rely on your crafter’s glue & fabric shears? Probably not!
2.) Make room for homework time.
Where is the best place that you son or daughter can be the most productive with the least amount of distractions? If left to their own choices, most kids would likely choose in front of the t.v. or on their bed as their homework spot. For some that may work but for many there are too many temptations to do something aside from their algebra so it’s best to set up a space where they’ll be most successful. You can create a homework nook where their supplies are handy or even set up at the kitchen table so you can help out while cooking dinner. Having a place to set up books and worksheets each night can help your child acclimate quicker into doing their homework because they don’t have to find and clear a space before they can get started.
3.) Stick to a plan.
Make a plan for after school each day, post it and make it happen. Coming home from school can be a mix of thoughts, needs and feelings, easily creating a sense of chaos. By having a plan for the afternoon you won’t have to feel like you’re barking orders trying to redirect your child each day because they already know the lineup for the afternoon. I like making a visual plan that shows the to-do’s and then can be marked off once completed.
4.) Get clear on expectations.
Similar to a plan, talking with your child about what you expect from their homework time can help ease responsibility off of you as the parent and onto your child. For example, when they know that they can’t access screen time until homework is done you’re setting them up with clear expectations for what needs to happen before they can move on to a different activity. This combined with a plan can reduce whining and bargaining!
5.) Hungry bellies lead to empty minds.
School days are long and refueling with a small and healthy snack before or during homework can go a long way in making homework time easier. Have a snack in the cupboard or fridge for quick options and reduce your child’s time standing in the kitchen scouring for something sweet. Help remind them that healthy food choices are good for the brain and that dinner is just right around the corner.
**Bonus tip- Leave a little room in for wiggling.***
Sometimes things happen and your homework plans will go right out of the door with your child as they race off down the street on their bike. You know what your child needs whether it’s a nap, outside time or a trip to the ice cream shop to vent over a scoop of chocolate. Kids need to know that with structure and routine comes the human need for wiggling outside the lines and parents who can recognize that.
I hope that these 5 quick homework time tips can help your household be more prepared for after school. If you have any of your own homework time tips please feel free to comment below & let me know. I wish you all a great school year full of learning, growth and smiles.
I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT 704-237-0814