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Help With Homework? Re-frame Your Approach This Year


The school year is now underway, and for most of us, that can only mean one thing. It’s just a matter of days before ‘it’ begins, ‘mom, where is my science book? I know it was in my book bag and now it’s gone!’ or ‘dad, YOU SAID you would help me with my English!’ Homework season has begun.

When did homework become so intense, so stressful? Does it have to be this way? Here are just a few ideas to re-frame the homework experience to make it easier on you and help you remember why we do it at all.

Pro or con, the homework debate has been going on for as long as most of us can remember. How much is enough? Is it worth it? Should you monitor your child? Most research leans towards yes, generally speaking, though not always in the way we might think. Overall, a good rule of thumb is approximately 10 minutes per grade, so a first grader completes about 10 minutes, and so on.

People on the negative side of the homework debate would argue that, after the school bell rings, kids should leave the school books at school and be free for fun and leisure activities. Enjoy the great outdoors, play, and engage in community activities. Of course, those on the pro-homework side see things quite differently.

Pro-homework people would contend that homework is actually a part of school. Assigning homework helps children build responsibility. The teacher asks that something be completed outside of school hours, and the child is then doing so independently. Skills the child is developing include time management, planning, and organization. Additionally, there is an element of stress, at least for most students and subsequently homework becomes a great opportunity to learn coping skills and resiliency. And lastly, yes, it includes the opportunity to practice and obtain mastery over academic content – math, reading, and writing – presented during the school day.

Seeing the benefit of what your child is gaining from homework, what can parents do to make homework time run more smoothly? Here are just a few tips:

  1. Check in with your child everyday. A good question to ask is: what do you have to do and when are you going to do it? Additionally, regardless of whether your child does or does not have assignments on any given day, have your child get into the habit of spending 10-15 minutes in ‘homework’ time during the school week. On days with no assignments, she can always read.
  2. Establish and maintain a clear routine. This includes a specific location, having necessary materials on hand, determining the best time for homework completion, and helping your child have a homework plan each night (e.g. prioritize task, order, time to complete).
  3. Provide only enough support to ensure that your child successfully completes his assignments for the day.
  4. Set-up specific incentives or goals only as needed.


Remember that homework is designed as a valuable learning tool for your child: if you find that your child (or you) is becoming overwhelmed either in time, energy,  or stress, talk with a teacher or other resource regarding possible supports or accommodations. Help is available – students can learn to improve skills in time management, organization, and healthy coping.

To find out more about helping your child develop these skills and other ways to feel happier and more confident at school, call Amy Folger at Wasatch Family Therapy, 801-944-4555.

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