You’ve finally gotten in the door after shuttling the kids around all afternoon, and you’re ready to sit for a spell before dinner.
But before you can really unwind, your little one reaches out with a math question. It’s time for the battle of the homework wars.
Whether you’re a “tiger mom” pushing your kids to excel, an anti-testing advocate or just another Common Core critic trying to re-learn math, homework can be hard on everyone—just ask your kids.
To make the whole thing less painful, kick things into high gear. Use these three tips to streamline homework sessions so you and your kids can get back to doing something a little more fun.
- Destination: Homework station
A little bit of organization can go a long way, so take the time to set up a homework center with everything your kids might possibly need to get their work done in one place. A great homework station should be:
- Public. No hiding out in a bedroom playing video games. They should be within easy reach for a check-in if things get suspiciously quiet while you’re folding laundry.
- Semi-comfortable. Overstuffed couches and comfy cushions are for kids who have finished their work. Ideally, you want an upright chair and large work surface. The dining room table or a desk in the living room are perfect options.
- Well stocked. Have pencils, pens and highlighters ready to go, along with some of those big pink erasers. Other items to consider: a ruler, notebook, calculator and dictionary. Keep these in a caddy that you can tuck away when homework is done and you want your table back.
A homework station cuts down on time wasted when hunting for supplies, and it can serve as an anchor for a solid after-school routine. Knowing you’re keeping an eye on them will help your kids stay on task, so they won’t be tempted to stare off into space or daydream about Minecraft.
- Be the boss of screen time
Speaking of Minecraft (or whatever game your kids are into this week), let your offspring know that staring at a screen is a privilege, not their birthright. As a means to motivate them, declare that there is no screen time until homework is done.
The addictive power of those little bleeping games makes it next to impossible for kids to tear themselves away to start their homework, and you’ll waste a ton of time cajoling and arguing about it. They’ll also have to spend a lot of energy getting back into a non-brain-dead mode of operation, so make screen time a reward for a job well done—you’ll be amazed at the power of the Xbox when it comes to speeding things along.
- Multitask healthy habits
None of this is to say that you should chain your child to the desk until all their homework is completed—you didn’t have kids to become a part-time warden. Little breaks can make a world of difference, and you can use homework time to inject a dose of healthy eating and exercise into their daily routine. Here’s how:
- Snack and read. Give kids a healthy snack for better concentration while they work. A piece of fruit gives a much-needed blood sugar boost, and some crackers with cheese or peanut butter packs in some protein for focus. Your best bet? Combine independent reading time with snacking and kill two birds with one stone.
- One-song dance breaks. There’s a lot of interesting new research indicating that short bursts of physical activity provide a big brain boost and help kids focus on academic tasks. Between each subject, let your kids choose a favorite song and have them dance to the music. When the song is over, it’s back to work! They’ll likely be refreshed and ready to go.
Try these tips to get your kids into a great new homework routine. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get to enjoy relaxation time sooner than you think!