3 Ideas for Decreasing Homework Stress for the Whole Family

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Guest Blogger: Donine Pickett

Donine Pickett has her degree in education from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. She has educational experience through her 3rd grade teaching years in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mrs. Pickett continues to use her experience and expertise as a mother of three young children.


“Don’t forget to do your homework!”

The daily grind of homework affects both students and parents. In general, students can at times spend an hour or two per night working on homework. Imagine you have a foster or adoptive child who has just been thrown into your family – if you’re a regular here, you might not have to imagine. She may have learning disabilities or be dealing with the effects of past trauma. She is getting used to a new school and a new family. Now add hours of homework into the equation. There are simply not enough hours in a day to complete the homework and still have time to get used to home life and bond as a new family. What is a parent or a teacher to do? Discuss goals for the child. Perhaps at this time some social and emotional goals are just as important if not more important than academic progress. In other words, achieving straight As and a high-paying career may not be the current goals. Then get creative, and work together to help lessen the homework burden.

“There are simply not enough hours in a day to complete the homework and still have time to get used to home life and bond as a new family.”

These three ideas may help you as a parent get the ball rolling with the teachers and other school personnel.

1. Eliminate Busy Work
Work with the teacher to ensure that the assigned homework is addressing the current skills needing to be mastered. Eliminate “busy work” homework for the student. As much as I hate to admit it, I can think of times as a teacher that I gave assignments that included items that did not zero in on the current skills for mastery. These students often need the essential skills without peripheral distractions that such homework provides.

2. Cut Down On Volume
Perhaps in the case conference discuss compacting the homework. The homework should cover all the concepts but greatly cut down on volume. Assigning only key questions on a math worksheet will help in showing what the student understands while greatly reducing the amount of homework. Homework reduction in this way may at times even be written into the student’s IEP.

3. Combine Writing
Ask the special education department or resource room if there is a way to combine writing with another subject. For example, a writing assignment could be combined with social studies. Thus, two subjects can be graded with one assignment. Killing two birds with one stone will potentially free up precious hours at home.

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Is homework a time-consuming source of frustration for you and your child? With everyone working together creatively and flexibly your child’s needs (academic and otherwise) can be better addressed. Boldly, be your child’s voice when working with the school. After all, parents are the child’s biggest advocate.


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