One of the things I like to do at the end of each school year is take stock of where we excelled and where we struggled over the last 9 months, and put processes in place so we have a plan of action for the following term. I find this is the time of year when we’re all feeling fed up with balancing schedules, extracurricular activities, and homework – not to mention all of the end-of-year celebrations! – which makes it the perfect time to pinpoint where changes need to be made. I’ve been especially interested in figuring out how to make homework less stressful as I know grade 3 will bring more responsibility and school work!
Whether your kids are just starting elementary school, or they’re in middle or high school, finding ways to streamline your evenings and weekends as it relates to homework can be a huge game-changer for the entire family.
If you want to know how to make homework less stressful, these tips and ideas will inspire you!
How to Make Homework Less Stressful: 11 Tips for Parents
1) Develop and maintain a regular homework schedule
While this doesn’t sound like rocket science, it amazes me how many parents fail to create – and stick to – a predictable homework routine. This tends to be particularly challenging on weekends when everyone’s tired and needs a break from schedules and rules, but it inevitably leads to panicked Sunday night arguments and meltdowns over forgotten assignments and school projects. In a perfect world, we’d get our kids into the habit of getting their homework done as soon as they get home from school, but experience has taught me this is a pretty unrealistic expectation. Instead, carve out a block of time on weekdays and weekends for your kids to focus on their schoolwork that works with your schedule and avoids last-minute scrambling, and stick to those times as much as possible.
2) Create a daily homework agenda
A simple yet powerful tip for those who are trying to figure out how to make homework less stressful is to get your child into the habit of maintaining a daily agenda. I find most kids don’t get into agendas and planners until they hit the middle school years, and think it’s important that parents work with their child to develop good time management skills from an even earlier age. There are heaps of academic planners you can buy rather inexpensively on Amazon (this planner is a great one for beginners!), which serve as great stepping stones in teaching your child how to prioritize his or her time. Make it a habit to spend 10 minutes or so planning for the week ahead each Sunday evening, and then check the planner each afternoon after school to help your child understand what is required of him or her and to help create a plan for the evening.
3) Allow your child time to recharge after school
As tempting as it is to force our kids to sit down and power through their homework the moment they walk through the front door every afternoon, I’ve learned the hard way that this isn’t a realistic expectation. Like adults, kids need time to decompress after a long day, and they will have a much easier time focusing and concentrating on their homework if they have the opportunity to get some energy out of their system first. Hit the park, go for a bike ride, or do some gross motor activities in your basement to help your little one get his or her wiggles out!
4) Create a dedicated space for homework
It doesn’t matter if your child does his or her homework at the dining table, on the kitchen breakfast bar, or at an elaborate desk in his or her bedroom, but it is important to find a dedicated and QUIET space that is free from distraction so your little one can focus. For younger kids, it’s a good idea to choose an area within close proximity to you so you can keep your eyes peeled and intervene if and when your child becomes distracted. ⠀
5) Make sure you have all necessary tools on hand
While creating a dedicated space for your child to complete his or her homework, but sure to take the time to gather together all of the supplies he or she will need. If your child uses a desk, these items can easily be stored in drawers, but if your little one does homework at the dining table like my daughter does, spend time creating a homework caddy together. There are tons of great ones on Amazon, and your child will have fun filling it with his or her favorite supplies. We love our Learning Resources Create-A-Space Storage Center because it has removable containers!
6) Set a timer
Another great tip for those who want to know how to make homework less stressful is to use a timer. It may be easier for your child to focus for fifteen minutes at a time rather than trying to sit down and focus on completing an entire assignment at once. Set a timer (we love the Time Timer as it helps demonstrate the concept of time) and have them concentrate on their work for 15-20 minute periods depending on their age.
7) Take regular brain breaks
Brain breaks are designed to provide the sensory input a child needs to stay alert and focused and in control of his or her emotions. These breaks are especially important for children who struggle with challenges like ADD, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and autism, but regular movement breaks can benefit all children. By giving their brains a rest and allowing them to engage in a few minutes of physical activity to get their wiggles out, you’ll likely notice improved attention and focus, increased retention of material being learned, improved emotional regulation, reduced behavioral problems, improved gross motor skills, increased motivation, increased inclusion and cooperation, etc. CLICK HERE for some of our favorite sensory breaks for kids!
8) Consider a reward chart
I am a HUGE fan of reward charts, and if you’re trying to figure out how to make homework less stressful, this tip could be life-changing for you! Reward charts tend to be most effective in kids aged 2-10 years, and offer a simple way to keep kids motivated without power struggles and consequences. I’ve written an entire post about how to successfully implement reward charts, including links to my favorite free printable options as well as some great budget-friendly customizable options, which you can read HERE.
9) Schedule fun post-homework evening activities
As a working mom, I am always on the hunt for tips and ideas to help me be more intentional with the time I spend with my daughter, and one of the best things I did this year was to implement daily ‘mom-and-me’ time. Each night when I’m helping my daughter get ready for bed, I ask her to come up with one thing she would like to do with me the following afternoon after school, and then I write it on a small chalkboard in her bedroom. I like having a visual reminder that we have quality time to look forward to, and I’ve found that my sweet girl is much more motivated to power through less desirable tasks like homework if she knows we have a fun activity planned.
10) Prioritize sleep
If your little one finds it difficult to concentrate at the end of the school day and is prone to homework tantrums, ask yourself if he or she is getting enough rest. Sleep plays a huge role in so many aspects of our lives, and it’s essential your child is getting enough restorative sleep each night.
11) Get involved and make it fun!
My last tip for those who are trying to figure out how to make homework less stressful is to get involved! Take the time to read through homework assignments with your child, help him or her brainstorm ideas and source materials for upcoming projects, and make a concerted effort to help make the experience enjoyable so you child looks forward to doing homework instead of dreading it. Of course, older kids may no longer want or need your help with school assignments, but you can still organize ‘work dates’ so you can work on independent tasks while simultaneously spending time together.
I hope these tips and ideas inspire you to figure out how to make homework less stressful for you and your kids. Remember to create and stick to a regular homework routine, to break things down into manageable tasks and take regular brain breaks, and to get involved and make it fun!