It’s back to school time and in many homes, the dreaded homework struggles are about to start again! Here are some ideas for reducing homework struggles. Mostly pertaining to younger children but can be adapted to work with your teens too.

1. Get Organized.
a. teach your kids to write down (or photo) their homework in their planner first thing at the beginning of class
b. Put a accordion binder or dividers so each subjects can be separated. Clean/Sort once a week.
c. Before bed, get them to put their backpack, gears, and any other things they need for the next day together in a designated area near the door so it’s grab n go at show time

2. Strategy to help with the Procrastinator
a. Put a timer on the homework time: start with 5 or 10 min for younger kids or kids who have executive function challenges
b. Discuss an appropriate length and stop time for the homework. And ask them if and how many times they wanted to be reminded. (abide by the agreement)
c. Focus on doing the first few tasks to help get started
d. break down a big task into sections and get “rewarded” for completions

3. Strategy to help with the Over-scheduled
a. put homework supplies in the car so homework can be done one the go
b. get them to figure out what can be done in 5 minutes (ex: spelling memorization, readings), so they can have that ready anytime there’s a break (i.e. in the car ride or waiting for pickup)
c. help them figure out how they are using their time everyday and get them to figure out when they can get some work done.
d. if “c” brings you and your child to a realization that there’s basically not enough time, then it’s time to reduce number of extracurricular activities or make other concessions with school works.

4. Nutrition and Exercise
a. Brain focuses better when the body get some aerobic physical activities. Get in least 10 min of physical activities before homework time.
b. Wholesome food help the brain thinks clearer. Avoid sugar and processed food. Get enough healthy fat, protein, and complex carbohydrate like vegetables. If there’s a potential for food sensitivity that triggers your child’s behavior, talk to a doctor/nutritionist or use a food dairy to keep track of food vs. mood/behavior.

If your child is unmotivated and you can’t figure out why, reach out to a school counselor or a psychotherapist for some help.

Ann K. Dolin’s website is a wonderful resource for more ideas for homework and education help.