Helping Children Manage Homework Frustrations

eybergen-mouthofbabesWith the creation of routines and the development of healthy work habits, children can get homework done in a timely manner, and with less frustration.

Homework time can often be very stressful for children and their parents. Children can feel overwhelmed due to the amount of homework assigned, they may have a lack of understanding of the instructions, or they may just not want to interrupt their leisure time to get it done. When children do not comply with their parents' requests to complete their homework, it often becomes a source of conflict between them. Working together to create an environment of support can lessen the angst families feel about the homework experience.

Establishing a Working Relationship with a Child's Teacher

Parents should make every effort to connect with their child's teacher and coordinate ways in which to communicate with each other regarding the child's performance at school. When a parent is aware of their child's class curriculum they are in a better position to help their child. Parents who support the teacher's efforts in the classroom at home ensure continuity in the child's learning. If a child struggles with a homework assignment, the parents can lend understanding to the problem because they will already be familiar with the assignment's objective.
When there is dialogue between a parent and a teacher, students who are having difficulty or have missed homework assignments are more readily identified than if a parent and a child's teacher have no contact. Keeping in touch on a regular basis with a child's teacher will help impede a learning problem should one develop. The parent and teacher can agree on ways to best assist the child.

Creating Homework Routines

Parents and children should work together to devise ways to create an atmosphere that is conducive to getting homework done. Start by asking a child where they are most comfortable working; if he prefers silence or background noise (radio, classical CD, hum of the dishwasher); if he wants a parent nearby or want to be left alone with intermittent checks. Such questions can facilitate an area where the child is able to focus and not be distracted. Working areas can be reassessed as often and as necessary as need be if they do not meet the child's needs. Younger children require less autonomy and as they get older, more and more responsibility for their homework can be shifted to them.

Parents and children should also decide on a specific time each day when homework is to be done. When the time of day is consistent, children will expect that it is going to happen. Children work well under structure and routine.

Maximizing a Child's Learning Potential

When helping children with their homework, parents need to identify their child's learning style and work with their child's strengths to deliver content and explanations in a way that will make sense to the child.

Parents need to come up with ways to motivate their children and make the experience of doing homework a pleasant one. For example, if a child is overwhelmed with the amount, parents can break it down in to chunks and instruct the child to do a piece at a time with a break in between.

Identifying a Bigger Problem

If a child appears to be persistently struggling with specific subject material or basic fundamentals to learning (reading and writing or math concepts) parents should consider if there is an underlying learning disorder or whether or not the child is experiencing anxiety that may be preventing learning from occurring. When such issues are identified, they can assist children in getting preferred accommodations and modifications implemented within their educational program.

Homework can be a daunting task for all concerned. Developing a relationship with a child's teacher, establishing routines and working with a child's learning strengths can certainly lessen the amount of frustration over homework. When parents take a pro-active approach to teach their children management skills and healthy work habits it will not only facilitate the homework process, but also serve children well in their future professions.


Dyan Eybergen, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, has more than ten years experience working as a therapist and parent educator. Eybergen currently resides in St. Albert, Alberta, with her husband and three sons. Out of the Mouths of Babes is her first book. For more information visit www.www.dyaneybergen.com.

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