For many families of middle and high school students, evening time becomes a stress-filled time for everyone. This is due to the fact that tired and over-scheduled kids fight to focus to complete their homework. Fortunately, this time can become much more relaxed and productive with a few tweaks to routines and tips to help students to manage their time and work better.
8 Tips to Ease Homework Time Stress:
- Start with goals: Prior to making any changes to a homework routine that is not working, sit down with your child to identify their goals around their homework time. Do they need to create more time? Focus more effectively? Remove distractions? Get started earlier? A meaningful plan can then be created from these goals with all family members on board.
- Create a dedicated space: All too often, kids complete their homework with a host of distractions nearby: T.V., Internet, phones or other family members doing other things other than work. Homework is best completed in a quiet space that is free of all distractions. If the Internet is needed for research, this should be done during a specific time set aside for this purpose. Phones and televisions should be off.
- Create a plan: Before tackling any homework assignment, kids should set up a schedule that includes what assignments need to be completed and an estimate of how long each assignment should take to complete. These assignments should then be ordered according to their due date and difficulty level.
- Break down big assignments: When creating the homework plan for the evening, it is important to also take into consideration of any long term assignments that have been given. Divide these assignments into several (3-10, depending on the assignment) parts to complete over the course of the time until the assignment is due. Then, the big project is easily absorbed into the week, instead of being a shock the day before it’s due.
- Take regular breaks: Kids are unable to focus for longer than 45-50 minutes at a stretch. Plan 10-minute breaks into each hour of homework. The best breaks include some physical movement and/or fresh air.
- Keep track of paper: Students should keep assignments and notes for each class in a separate folder or section of a notebook. After completing each assignment at home, papers should go directly back into the appropriate folder.
- Identify circadian rhythms: Is your early bird trying to complete homework at 10:00 p.m.? Is your night owl frantically trying to finish homework the morning before school? Work with your child’s natural cycles in order to determine the best homework time for them, given other commitments. An early bird may benefit from rising an hour earlier to get work completed. A night owl may focus best getting starting after dinner.
- Study Smart: Kids learn in many different ways. For example, take a look at Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory in order to identify the way your child learns best. Tailor study time to their strengths. For example, interpersonal learners prefer to interact while learning, therefore, quizzing aloud and studying in groups would suit them well.