Homework Nights are Hell, by Tre Harrington
This year I have one kiddo in high school and one in elementary school. The child in high school is easy. He comes home, has a snack and does his work. There are no fights, no hostage negotiations, and no tears. The kid in elementary school, she is another story.
We have three children: oldest who is fifteen, middle who is ten, and then there is youngest, our two year old. Middle is in fourth grade this year. I have no idea what they are prepping these kiddos for, but I assume upon completion of fourth grade, she should be a brain surgeon. Each night middle child has had at least an hour and a half of homework. With her constant yelling, fits, defiant rages, and screaming, it typically takes about four hours. By the end of it, the husband and I are ready to call it a night and break out the wine.
I feel bad for her, but I can’t let her know that. I realize these kiddos put in hard days at school. It is stressful for them. I truly believe that they work hard all day and all of the homework is daunting for them. Middle child is also autistic. We do not let her use that as an excuse though. She gets no special considerations, and she is expected to do the same amount of work as her peers. I imagine it would be much easier on her, and us, to use her disability to her advantage. We could easily say that this amount of homework is not within her capabilities, but we know she is. It would not be beneficial to her long term. We do not let middle child be set apart in any way, instead we fight to keep her as mainstream as possible. Even if it means fighting for hours and hours over homework.
We did find a few helpful hints for homework time. These are not full proof and I cannot guarantee they will even work. The best you can do is try. In our home, they work sometimes, depending on middle’s mood. Like parenting, homework time is all about making mistakes and learning from them.
- Let the child be in control. If they have four different subjects, let them choose what order they do things in. It allows them to feel like they are making the rules. This is pretty important to them, especially after being told what to do all day.
- Be sure the child gets a ten minute break when they walk in the door. No talk about school, no unpacking the backpack, just allow them to unwind. When you get off work, you need some time to decompress. Give them that as well.
- If you see the child getting frustrated, have them take a time out. No toys or television, just have them sit in a quiet place for a few minutes. Let them chill and be calm. They are getting frustrated, so work to stop the blow up before it occurs.
- We have found that getting through the hardest subjects first works best. If your child struggles in math, and they save it until last, it will be weighing on them all homework time. So, try to get it out of the way. If it is taking too long, break it into sections and work on something else in-between sections.
- Use positive reinforcement. You cannot ever tell your child how awesome, smart, or wonderful they are enough! Do it! Many, many times a day.
Every time you and your child are having an awful homework night, know there are many other parents going through the exact same thing as well. In the end, it is worth it. We are raising the future doctors, scientists, and teachers. So, take a deep breath and tell your kiddo they are awesome and keep going. You only have to do this until they graduate.