As a Tutor and Family Coach I get to see up close and personal the everyday struggle over the dreaded nightly ritual–homework. I have been privy to many conversations between Parent and Child such as, “What do you mean the science fair project is due TOMORROW?!” or “I can’t remember 8th Grade Algebra. Why didn’t you take better notes!” These nightly must-do’s are a stressor on both Parent and Child, creating frustration directed at all parties involved. So what do you do about it? As I explain to my students and their families the key to eliminating frustration is preparation.
Preparation is the Key to Solving Your Homework Woes!
Preparation for anything takes time, effort, and diligence. It is not for the faint of heart! You already know this fact because you have been making plans your entire life: College, Grad School, Marriage, Buying a House, Vacations, Birthday Parties, Family Events and so forth. Preparation is not a new concept but it may be applied in a new way when it comes to family scheduling.
Over the years I have been privileged to meet some amazing SuperParents: working a full-time job while rotating between carpool, soccer snacks, karate lessons, ballet recitals, and attempting to squeeze in a date night here and there. Those SuperParents are equipped with the latest and greatest advancement in…. Calendars! Whether they’ve got it on their fancy phones, have opted to go “old school”, or decided on a mini-sized lamination of the larger family schedule (yes, I’ve seen this method in action) calendars are an amazing tool to keep your family’s day on task.
Their financial cost is minimal but it does require a daily dose of coordination and communication between all members of the household. When it comes to homework, however, I cannot recommend a better solution than to take the time and write it down.
Here’s an example of a Family Schedule I recently drew up for a family of four struggling with time management:
- 6:30 am: Good Morning! Time to Begin Our Day
- 7:00 am: Breakfast
- 7:30 am: Leave for School
- 8:09 am -2:34pm: School
- 2:45 pm: Pick Up from School and Talk About Our Day. Snack in the car.
- 3:30 pm -4:30 pm: Karate Practice
- 5:00 pm: Arrive at Home
- 5:00 pm -5:30 pm: Break and Snack
- 5:30 pm -6:30 pm: Homework [1 hour of homework]
- 6:30 pm-7:15pm: Dinner with the Family (no electronics during dinnertime for any member of the family, including Parents)
- 7:15pm-8:15pm: Finish up any leftover homework for the day [1 hour of homework]
- 8:15-: Wind down. Brush Teeth, Put PJ’s on, Get tucked in, 20 minutes of Nightly Reading
- 8:45: Lights Out! See You Tomorrow!
With this schedule the children still have time to enjoy after-school curriculars, such as Karate (or insert your child’s after-school activity) along with time left for dinner with the family (free of electronics so the focus can be on family communication) and two hours of homework nestled into their day. Notice, however, the thing missing from the day’s activities: TV and Video Games. When I take on a family for coaching, I draw up a schedule with little to no electronics from Mondays to Thursdays. Now, I’m certainly a fan of my Hulu and I think electronics can be very useful (see my previous post here) but I know that it can be a huge time sucker during the school week. For that reason, I ask the families I work with to limit or eliminate non-school related electronics during the week. Although it takes planning and structure, and you will have to contend with a little whining initially, it is doable if you stick to the plan.
So I invite all of you to invest in a calendar, planner, smartphone, or just a good old-fashioned family-schedule-posted-to-the-fridge and get cracking! In just a little bit of time you’ll notice a change–a calmness perhaps–in your family’s day and the Homework Woes will soon be a thing of the past.
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