Is your child struggling to get homework completed? If so, they are not alone.  

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 As a former teacher, a parent to grown children, and grandparent to a toddler, and a current elementary math and reading tutor, I know that homework can be a struggle. It is a struggle for a lot of reasons. Let’s unpack those reasons and see if we can do something about them. Afterall, we all want our kids to love learning. We don’t want them to struggle, and if we can change just a few things to make a big difference, I think we can all agree that it is a good thing. 

When I was struggling to get homework from my fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students, I would shake my head and think, “Why aren’t they all completing their work? It is simple, They just have to finish up the work we started here in class.” After many, many years, I finally decided it wasn’t worth the struggle for me or or my students. I had to make a mind-shift about homework. I discovered that research said elementary students didn’t have a huge benefit from homework. So, I thought, I really needed to reconsider this idea of homework. I made changes to my classroom routines, and I also made changes to what homework would look like. If they had homework, I would ask them to complete a project that they were self-directing. I also gave them an exit ticket where they had to show me that they actually understood the material. If they didn’t, then it was up to me to meet with them and do more practice with them. 

With that being said, I still had a few students that would occasionally have some homework. I tried to limit this to just a few practice problems. My homework became encouraging reading at home for 20 minutes per night, and practicing math facts each week. The students that did this, actually had great gains during the school year. I could always tell the ones who were doing this. Their confidence was higher because they were exposing themselves to more words and their vocabulary was increasing. They also had higher math fact fluency, and they were able to spend less time thinking about the computation portion of their homework, and more time on the steps it would take to solve the math problems. However, I also would provide parents with some advice about what they could do to create a learning environment for their child. 

Some of the advice I would give to parents was to create a learning environment for their child. Asking their child to sit at the kitchen table that is loaded with tonight’s supper, the TV playing on high, or their siblings playing nearby doesn’t create a learning environment. Setting up a small workspace that was dedicated to studying is critical to success. Making sure your child has adequate work space that is clutter-free, has paper and pencils, and a quiet environment where there are few distractions is key to success. Make sure there are no distractions like gaming systems, tablets, or phones that the child may want to play with.  (Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.)

Being close by is important for younger children. They typically have more questions and will get stuck more often. Be sure to allow them to be as independent as possible. However, if they need support, be sure to provide it for them. Stick to things like reading directions, asking your child if they have questions about things. Answer those questions, but be sure you are not giving the answers. Lead them to the answers, but don’t give the answers away. 

Provide a positive environment for your child. Nagging about what your child’s teacher produces a very negative effect on your child. Be sure to keep your discussions positive. When your child sees you are happy with their teacher, they will also stay positive. Nothing is worse for the child than when they feel like their teacher is against them. Stay positive. 

Time management may be a problem as well. You may want to consider a timer for your child if you feel they need support with staying on task. Being sure you set the timer for short periods of time is vital for success. When they know they only need to work for a certain time period, they are more apt to stay focused. You can find several types of timers that may help your child stay focused. Here are a few I would recommend.

I would also encourage you to consider using some sort of a planner for your child. You can purchase planners where children can list their assignments and when they are due. You can also consider using a trapper system with folders for your child to use so they can put their work in a folder for each of their assignments. I realize that these systems work best when children are old enough and responsible enough to carry through with them. But, they are things to consider if your child is struggling with organization. 

Lastly, I would encourage you to stay in contact with your child’s teacher. I do not mean that you need to contact them daily. However, if you are concerned, be sure to reach out and just do a quick check in to see if your child is staying on task, getting their work done, or if they simply need to work on certain areas outside of their school day. 

I hope that some of these suggestions will inspire you to take action and that these ideas will support your child’s homework time. 

For more information about Tutoring with Sheryl, be sure to visit:

Published by Tutoring with Sheryl

I have 32 years of experience teaching in public schools in Nebraska. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincon. I hold a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane University. I have 2 Google for Education Certifications. I have been tutoring online for 1 year. I have worked with countless students of all ages to support their education. I also support teachers with planning and management in their classrooms.

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