Do you know what the most common complaint that I have heard since everyone went back to school? It’s about homework. That annoying little bugger seems to have infiltrated most of my friends homes this year, not to mention our own. It was something I was dreading before we even started the year and it’s just as bad as I remember.
I can’t actually believe there was a time that I was enjoying it. Oh how I laughed reading this post. Who was that woman and what happened to her? I think she died when she realised that it wouldn’t stay one page of activities for a whole week any more.
The funny thing is that it all changed a while ago. Last year I actually wouldn’t have been able to write this post as even the word “homework” would make me want to lock myself in the toilet with a bag of Nik Naks. But I think we have come a long way in how we approach it in order to make it a positive and enjoyable experience for both of us.
Let me set the scene of last years homework fails…
We have two very different personalities when it comes to homework. (I’ll leave you to decide who you think is who). One literally gets home and pulls out her books, eager to do it properly and be done with it. In fact she enjoys doing it so much that she even reads her reader twice just for fun. I can’t even remember a single day where she has complained or not wanted to do it.
The other one will do absolutely anything to try and get out of it. And when we do finally sit down to do it, she is distracted, irritable and just not into it. Which results in her sliding down while she’s reading, or fidgeting, or even sometimes not reading at all because a butterfly flew past and now she is lost in thought about how butterflies can even fly and where they go and what they eat and what their dreams are in life. You get the picture right?
This last one obvs results in us having a bit of a go at each other. Because I don’t really want to be sitting there for hours while she thinks about butterflies and their life goals, nor do I want to keep telling her to focus. But to get through it, I’d have to rage on her and that sucks.
But this year is going to be different
I’m actively trying to make homework a fun, but small chunk of their afternoon. Why? So that they can spend the rest of the time just being kids. I hate that they have to spend all day at school and then still have to sit for hours doing homework. It’s just not right and I won’t stand by it.
Which is easy to say, but if they schools aren’t on board then you have a problem.
Thankfully our school is very aware of this and so they set time frames for each section of the homework for the day. For example 10 minutes reading, 10 minutes spelling and 10 minutes maths. I can do that. We’re done in 30 minutes. Not too bad at all. However last year, I would stick to what they had to do rather than the time they had to do it in if that makes sense. So read page 1 – 16 in 10 minutes. I could have stopped at 10 minutes but we’d only be half way through the 16 pages. Back then I would make her finish it but this year, I am sticking to the times.
After a lot of thought, trial and lots of errors, here’s my homework survival guide
- Don’t do it immediately after you get home. Like you, they also need to decompress after a long day with expectations piled all over them. Take 30 minutes to chill before starting.
- Feed the brains. Make sure that they have had something to eat and drink so that they aren’t distracted by grumbling tummies or dry mouths half way through their reader or maths.
- Have a set area. Kit it out with supplies that you need – a book for spelling practice, a pencil and eraser, some colourful pens, whatever makes it a happy space. They will then always know where their things are and have no excuse not to get started.
- Switch off distractions. The TV should not be on. Siblings need to be playing in another space or listening quietly to the story. (Knox often likes to sit and listen to Kyla reading).
- Keep it short. Hopefully you are lucky enough to have a school with a similar approach of not overloading children with homework. If not, then you set the rules. 10 – 15 minutes per subject. Take a break midway if necessary. Don’t feel ashamed to write a note to the teacher that they are expecting too much if they have been sitting for more than an hour (Grade 1-3). (I acknowledge that this is flipping hard to do, but you are the parent of your child and you should be able to tell the school that they are being unreasonable – especially for working parents that often have to do this with their children in the later hours when kids are not able to concentrate properly)
- Be patient. This is heck of a hard thing for me because I have a list of 9838534286 other things I could/should/must do, that I am tempted to just fly through it. But that’s putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on them. So try and keep any frustration on the inside, as difficult as that maybe be for you (as it is really hard for me).
- Make it fun. This is kind of the same as the patient thing, but keep it lighthearted and happy. Once you set a sour mood it just carries on and it’s hard to break out of. Ask me, I know. I have set myself up for homework being an awful sucky thing and trying to change that mindset now is proving to be rather difficult. Also, I’m trying to sell it as a special time for the two of us to be together without distractions and I think they value that too.
Do you have any solid homework tips to add? I’d love to hear them!
For now, I’m going to enjoy my favourite day of the week – Fridays. Do you know why? Because there’s no homework haha.