This time of year is a rough one for students and their parents in the US.
School is winding down.
Kids are annoyed that they’re still in school instead of soaking up the tempting rays of sun that shine through their classroom windows.
Teachers want kids to stay focused on their work to wrap up the schoolyear’s necessary assignments, despite attention-spans being low and energy levels being high!
Getting kids to pay attention in class is difficult. And the absolute last thing that a kid wants to do after coming home from a long, grueling day of school is to work on more homework.
This is true of all kids, but especially strong-willed kids!
For parents of strong-willed children, this difficult task that has been a power struggle for the entire year, seems increasingly more impossible with each passing day. But the threat of incomplete work looms overhead so you feel the pressure to help your kids complete the work…and while you don’t generally wish for pressure upon your child, you’re probably wondering why the pressure doesn’t weigh quite as heavily on him as it does on you!
For most areas of the country, there are only a few more weeks left to make it through and then you have a few luxurious months without homework. Notice how I didn’t say “without power struggles” because we all know that when homework ends and Summer begins, the power struggles will transition to hygiene and coming inside when asked!
As you endure these last few weeks of homework with your strong-willed child, I wish you luck and offer you some quick tips for surviving homework during the last few weeks of the school year.
End of Year Homework Tip #1:
Offer a Break
This time of year is incredibly busy. Springtime sports and activities are winding down while Summertime activities are just getting their start. Many kids dash from school to after-school activities to home for a quick supper…and the homework assignments due first thing in the morning.
To help your strong-willed child to be more successful with homework assignments, give your child a short break from their hectic day before transitioning into homework time.
If your kid comes straight home from school without any after-school activities, allow a 30-minute wind-down time to just relax at home and not worry about school tasks. Encourage a snack and a preferred relaxing activity, or just take time to connect with each other.
Some kids can handle playing some video games or watching a short YouTube video before moving on to homework; others absolutely cannot. You know your kid. If taking away screens is usually a knock-down-drag-out fight, then screens may need to be avoided during this break time to ensure that it doesn’t worsen the transition to homework. But, if screen time tends to be a calming routine for your child, he may be able to handle a quick episode of his favorite show or a short video game while chatting with his best buddy before starting homework.
If your kid has an afternoon filled with activities and heads home for a quick supper and it’s off to bed, then you may not have the luxury of a 30-minute wind-down time. Instead, you may have to settle for a 5-minute brain break to listen to his favorite song or to give him the opportunity to tell you a story about how hilarious it was that his friend did that thing at school that made all of the kids in the class laugh.
Even if the story isn’t that funny, he may need that 5 minutes of telling you all about it and feeling heard in order to transition into your expectations to get started with homework at such a late hour. Those 5 minutes can feel like wasted, precious minutes that could be better utilized prepping for homework, but those 5 minutes of allowing him to be him before rushing into homework mode may save you many more minutes (and power struggles) in the long run.
Give #kids a break before starting in on #homework for the day to help the process go more smoothly #parenting Click To Tweet
End of Year Homework Tip #2:
Allow for Some Control
Can you imagine what it must feel like to spend all day being told what to do by teachers only to head home and be told what to do all evening by your parents?
Maybe you can. Maybe you’re experiencing this type of micromanaging in your own life that makes you feel completely powerless everywhere you go. If this is happening to you, you know just how important it is to have some say in your daily life.
While we all have to go through the experience as children, it’s important for us adults to recognize that being a kid really is difficult because kids have very little control over their day. They’re used to an adult managing most aspects of their day and having little say in how their day turns out.
And when a kid feels like this, cue the power struggle. If they don’t have power, they’re going to try to figure out where to find some…and their home life is the perfect and safest place to search for it!
To assist with making homework a smoother process, give her as much control over the homework process as you can. Set the baseline expectation that homework must be completed, but allow her some control over how, where and when it gets done.
- Does she want to work on her homework at the kitchen table or in her room?
- Does she want to work on spelling words first, or leave them for the end?
- Does she want to write answers or say them out loud?
There are a lot of ways to help kids to learn from their school experience without replicating a scene from a little old school house with studious kids listening to an adult’s every word. At the end of the year, when Spring Fever has set in, strong-willed tendencies are stronger than ever and your child has met her max for homework, showing some flexibility in how, where and when homework gets completed can go a long way towards reaching the goal of completing the assignments.
And a bonus perk is that she may feel more respected by you, which can result in less overall strong-willed behavior.
Help #homework go more smoothly for your #child by giving them some control over the process #parenting Click To Tweet
End of Year Homework Tip #3:
Accommodate for Spring Fever Energy Levels
As the end of the school year approaches, attention spans decrease and energy levels increase. Classrooms can become a little bit chaotic at this point and everyone—teachers and students alike—are ready for the year to come to an end.
But the year hasn’t quite come to an end yet; and everyone needs to hold it together until it does!
When energy levels are high like this, the expectation for your child to sit down and work on homework after school is very unlikely to be met. However, if you can adapt your expectations to respect your child’s need for movement during this time, you can prevent some of those dreaded power struggles that come from homework time. After all, you aren’t the one who assigned the homework, but you’re the one who has to survive it!
If you notice that getting your strong-willed child to settle down for homework is almost impossible, consider ways to help get your strong-willed child moving or active during these last few weeks of afternoon, evening, or possibly late-night homework sessions. Your respect for his movement needs may help him to see that you really do care about him and only want the best for him, not that you wake up every day hoping to crush his spirit with everything you do (an unfortunate view that some strong-willed children adopt when every interaction with a parent seems to be a power struggle).
- Allow your child to walk around the room or jump on a trampoline while you quiz him for his upcoming test or practice spelling words.
- Find a collection of fidgets that he prefers so that he has plenty to utilize during stressful math problems.
- Read aloud to your child while he shoots baskets; when it’s his turn to read, allow him to stand, sit or lay down in his preferred position to complete the task.
- Use Sticky Notes on the wall or Scrabble tiles on the table or floor to practice spelling words.
- Wrap an exercise band around the base of his chair so that he has something to push his feet up against while he’s focusing hard on a problem.
- Use Legos, blocks, tiles or other toys of interest to your child to work out word problems on a bigger scale, versus only writing details down on paper.