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How to Minimize Arguments Over Your Child’s Homework

No parents wants to come home and get into an argument with their child about homework, but that’s often what happens. As the school year gets underway, here are some strategies to help minimize those conflicts while offering support to your child.

  • Make it clear that homework is important and should be a priority.
    You might say to your child, "I need to see that you are working on that science report in advance, not just the day before it's due." Repeat these messages frequently with each child in your family.
  • Talk about your household rules. Make sure your child understands any limits you've put on TV, electronic games, and time spent online. Let your child know you think homework is their most important job.
  • Teach your child to ask for help. Tell your child, "Ask for help if you get stuck or don't understand the homework." Say, "It's your job to ask for help. If I can't help you, I'll find someone who can." Remind your child that it's OK to make mistakes. That's the way we learn.
  • Learn about your child's school schedule. It's easier to talk about school if you know the names of your child's teachers and what's going on in the classroom. That way you can ask specific questions: "What happened in music class today?" "What did the teacher say about the bug project?"
  • Offer lots of encouragement and praise. Sometimes it's enough to say, "Can I get you something to eat or drink while you're studying?" "Do you need any supplies from the store?" Show excitement about the projects your child completes in your absence.
  • Ask questions. Encourage your child to try to solve problems on her own instead of expecting you to provide the answers. Ask, "What do you see that still needs to be done?" and "Did you check the rubric to make sure you cover all the required elements?"

Avoid threats. Instead of saying, "If you don't finish your report, you can't rent that movie," try, "When you finish your report, you can rent that movie." A positive message is always best.

Ask about homework every day all the way through the school year. Stay on top of what's due and what's coming up. Experts agree that even in high school, it's a good idea to check on a child's homework and to keep regular tabs on his grades. That way if a problem does arise you will know about it early enough in the marking period to make a difference.

Content Provided in part by LifeWorks