Originally posted here.
We all know how hectic after school time can be and getting kids to sit down and focus on their homework is a daily battle that we all have to face as parents. I’ve so been there! After nagging, reminding….even forcing my kids to sit and get their homework done for too long, we started to make some changes that have helped our family.
Below you’ll find some simple tips that have made homework time more manageable in our home.
1. Have a snack. Having a snack prepared for when the kids get home has made a big difference for us in cutting down on the chaos that comes with after school. I like to have a few healthy choices laid out on the table when the kids get home, my preschooler loves helping me set this out and when everyone arrives home I can focus on them and not snack. Snack doesn’t have to be elaborate. I like it to be something simple and healthy that the kids can eat while they work on their homework. Pretzels, apple slices, grapes, cheese strings. Sometimes I make a yummy batch of their favorite muffins. Getting the kids refueled after school is important and having a snack prepared ahead of time helps us get right down to business and get homework done!
2. Keep Homework supplies handy. Keeping homework supplies well stocked and in a central location has really helped us cut down on the amount of time we spend doing homework each afternoon and eased the stress of after school time. When the kids came home they used to spend 5 or more minutes searching for a pencil or other supplies they needed to complete their work, not to mention getting distracted at some point during their search. I set up a very simple and inexpensive homework station in our home that houses all things homework related – from filing the kids school paper work, to supplies like clipboards, pencils, erasers, crayons, rulers, etc. Everything is located right next to the table where we do homework and the kids know where to find everything they need.
3. Have clear expectations. Our kids know that when they get home from school it’s clean up and put away their school things, have a snack and complete their homework before screen time or playing with friends. After countless battles with getting kids to turn off the tv, or trying to gather them in from outside playing with friends to finish homework, this is what works for us. Without the distraction of tv or screens, homework gets done quicker and getting to watch a favorite show or go play with friends is just the incentive they need to stay on task and get their homework done quickly.
4. Activities for younger siblings. If you have preschoolers in your home it can be tricky to devote your time to helping older siblings with homework. What I’ve found works for my preschooler is to have an activity book set out with us at the table while the big kids do their homework. This is a special activity book that only comes out at this time of day and it’s become a special daily ritual that she enjoys! She loves feeling like she’s a part of everything and doing her “homework” with the big kids, all the while she is occupied so that I can focus my attention on the older kids.
5. Develop a routine. Find an after school routine that works for you and stick with it. The key to having a stress-free after school time for our family has been having a regular routine, which includes putting shoes, backpacks and lunch supplies away first thing when the kids arrive home. Placing homework and papers at their spot at the table where we do homework. The kids sit down for snack and start on homework while they eat. We’ve fine tuned this routine and practiced it. We keep things the same and consistent and because the kids know what’s expected when they get home from school it’s taken the nagging from me out of the equation.