Before starting homework, many children have had quite a full day. For some, homework is like a second work phase for the day (the first being a 6.5 hour or longer school day). For those that play sports and/or an instrument, it can be the third or fourth work phase and can be very stressful on everyone in the family.
Stress is not good. It is the feeling you get when one has to deal with more than one is used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger (“fight or flight”). Consistent exposure to stress has been know to adversely affect children’s ability to learn making it difficult to stay focused and organized. Stress can lead to headaches, stomach pain, problems sleeping, illness, depression and a weak immune system.
You can reduce the stress level that homework brings about by making simple yet difficult changes. The following are 7 examples of what can be done:
1. It is typical to use incentives to get children to complete homework and take away privileges to punish children for not completing their homework...these can often backfire if not used properly. Be sure consequences are reasonable and appropriate.
2.Intrinsic motivation will come from making homework a positive experience...when approached in a supportive manner you will get that positive experience.
3. Schools generally encourage students to complete homework assignments without assistance, but they should seek help (not ask for answers) when necessary and feel confident when working independently; a healthy level of dependence is a good thing.
4. A child’s level of dependence varies from subject to subject and assignment to assignment and requires the appropriate level support; they seek proficiency, so students that have trouble understanding or don’t have the skill set required to complete the assignment will need help...denial will increase their stress level.
5. Providing support for your child/children reduces stress and promotes better learning; a consistent and rational approach is vital to their development.
6. Keeping your child calm while completing his or her homework requires assessing their stress level and acting accordingly (if they are visibly upset, don’t stress them out more with demands and threats).
7. Talking to your child prior to homework and reflecting upon the day could be beneficial in bringing about calmness to a person who is stressed and make the homework experience much less stressful for all involved.