How to Cope with Chronic Homework Problems

Oaklee’s Guest Post by Andrew Spetter of The Tutoring Center

When your child consistently fails to complete homework assignments, you need to step in. Can your child usually complete assignments with extra assistance and encouragement? On most evenings, children should be able to complete assignments independently. If they seem to require more help from you than you think is reasonable,  it’s time to schedule an appointment with their teacher, or consider outside tutoring help. Explain your concerns to the teacher. Ask if your child is able to complete similar assignments in class. Even if your child is behind grade level,  you may need to set up a plan with the teacher to get your child back on track with homework, possibly modifying the amount of homework until your child catches up to grade level. A Plan for Improvement While your children’s specific plan for improvement must accommodate their unique circumstances, there are several key principles to follow in setting up that plan.

  • Your children’s homework is their responsibility. Your child needs to know what the assignments are, when they are due, and how much time to plan to complete them.
  • Establish clear expectations. What do you and the teacher expect your child to do? Make these expectations clear, and make sure your child understands that you and the teacher are working together to define them. Often a meeting involving you, your child, and the teacher is the best setting to establish expectations.
  • Establish clear consequences. Determine what will happen if your child fails to meet the expectations you and the teacher have established, and let your child know what consequences to expect. Identify several activities or privileges your children enjoy every day. When they meet the established expectations, they continue to enjoy their activities or privileges. When they don’t, some or all may be suspended. When you must suspend privileges, do so matter-of-factly, without anger or emotion. Be consistent.
  • Stay connected with your child’s teacher. A simple “note home” system is an easy and effective way to know whether your child is meeting established expectations. Your child’s teacher just sends home a short note each day telling you whether your child has completed and turned in assignments.

It’s Never Too Late to Start The earlier in your child’s school years that you can implement effective homework practices, the more likely you are to shape homework as a positive learning experience. However, it’s never too late to start. Even if your child has reached the grumbling and complaining stage, you can still turn things around.

Sit down with your child at a time and in a place where there are no distractions, and explain what you plan to do and what you expect to accomplish. Involve children in your plans as much as possible. In reality, your child doesn’t like fighting about homework any more than you do. Though you may hear complaints and even encounter resistance at first, stick to your plan. Remember, stay calm and keep it positive. In the end, both you and your child will appreciate having homework as just another routine in the day.

Andrew Spetter is the Center Director at The Tutoring Center in Long Grove.  The Tutoring Center rapidly increases academic skills and concentration span through direct, one to one instruction.  The Tutoring Center serves Buffalo Grove, Vernon Hills, Arlington Heights, Lake Zurich, Kildeer, and surrounding areas.