How to De-stress Homework

Setting expectations key to beating homework blues

Mother Tutoring her Son

No child likes doing homework. But does it have to be such an emotional drama every night?

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Homework stresses lots of kids. However, that stress can be reduced by setting goals, time management and organization.

Set expectations first

Pediatric psychologist Kate Eshleman, PsyD, says a big part of homework planning is setting expectations.

“Establish the routine right away and make sure the kids know what the expectation is,” says Dr. Eshleman. “With homework, as in most things, the kids need to do what they have to do — before they get to do what they want to do.”

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Tips for setting a homework routine

Dr. Eshleman suggests these steps to set up a routine for daily homework:

  • Let them unwind after school. It’s good to let kids have a snack, relax and recharge for a half-hour when they get home from school.
  • Get started on homework early. It’s best to get to homework right away. The longer things are avoided, the more overwhelming they become. Encourage children to get the homework done so they can enjoy the remainder of the evening. 

The later in the day it gets, the more tired children become, so completing work right after school decreases the likelihood that children will be overly tired when doing it. Getting work done shortly after school also helps with the contingency plan — for example, the children may play outside with the neighbors if their homework is completed. Waiting until later in the evening may decrease these options for positive reinforcement.

  • Schedule a certain hour of the day as ‘homework hour.’ Or set a goal: “Homework will be done before dinner.” This allows the children to have something to work towards and shows them that work can generally be completed in a finite amount of time.

Help kids get started on bigger assignments

Though you don’t want to do their homework assignments for them, your kids may need your help getting going on bigger, or more important, projects. 

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“If they’re worried about getting a certain grade on a project or getting it done by a certain time, talk through the assignment,” suggests Dr. Eshleman. “Look at the steps to complete it and put a plan in place.”

Help your children break large projects into smaller sections and create a plan for completing those, says Dr. Eshleman.  “Usually, getting them organized and on the right track will alleviate homework stress significantly.”

Finally, let them know you get it. Share with your kids that you had similar experiences when you were in school, and may continue to have in your current job — so you understand the pressure they’re feeling.

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