As we approach another school year, both students and parents will have to begin dealing with that dreaded thing known as homework. If it’s anything like my kid’s last school year, we are talking about a good 2-3 hours per night. Perhaps it could be done in a shorter time frame but it does come with stress and distractions. When I was in medical school, I had plenty of homework and it did get very stressful at times. Looking back on it now as I write this article, I wish I had someone review these tips with me.
Reducing homework stress can turn homework into a positive experience that teaches your child lifelong skills. When homework is too extensive and time consuming it can have a negative impact on the entire family. Stress can get in the way of the ability to learn and retain information. If your child ends up crying, sleep deprived or quitting activities to have more time to complete assignments they may be experiencing stress overload.
Breaking down assignments for your child sets smaller goals to complete at a time and you can then reward your child with a break. This seems to work best for my youngest child. We will set a timer to alert them that their break is over. This helps eliminate power struggles and it empowers children.
It is important to encourage children to review work each night so that when it is time for a test they are not overloaded with information. Also use affirmations or positive statements and set up an area in your home dedicated to homework and studying. An area clear of chaos makes it easier to focus and feel calm. Some studies have also suggested using aroma therapy to help calm children and help them focus with studying. A diffuser with Peppermint can help children focus and concentrate. As a medical student, I used to consume plenty of peppermint candy, and did find that it had a calming effect that helped me study, and they were allowed during tests as well which also helps.
Teaching children relaxation techniques is also found to help. Teach your children to take a deep breath in and say “Ahhhhh” to release anger and frustration. Stress management should be introduced during calm moments so they can be implemented when needed. As I learned the hard way, learning stress management when you are super stressed doesn’t work too well.
It is difficult to concentrate and feel balanced when hungry or eating sugar. Try to have a healthy snack available or even a meal before homework. I have seen that when my kids get a snack or small meal as soon as they get home and before they sit down for homework , there is a huge difference.
Don’t expect children to be able to sit still for long periods of time. Let them move as needed. Give their brains a break as well. Also, deep breathing brings oxygen to your child’s brain and reduces stress.
As a parent, it is also important that you stay positive during homework. Children listen and internalize negative statements and movements. A positive hopeful attitude is contagious. Essentially, if you believe they can do it, they will believe they can do it.
This next one is a vital one. Help your child understand directions, organize, and create a time management plan. Many children waste time by doing the homework incorrectly because they did not understand the directions. Going over them ahead of time saves time and frustration. Learn good study habits at a young age will go a long way for them as they get further into higher education. It’s better to learn these good habits at a young age than to break them of them when they are older.
Finally, and this was a big one for me since I require it to study, ask your children what type of music helps them to feel more relaxed when they work. Allow them to find what works for them. Some children need complete quiet and some do better with background noise. Let them learn what works best for them and honor it.
I use all these tips with my children and I hope they can help ease your child’s homework stress, and in the end help reduce your parental stress. And if all these fail, don’t forget the power of prayer in dealing with stress, which can sometimes work the best
Psalm 34:17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.