Most parents know the battle over homework with a teenager all too well. You know why it’s important for students to do their homework on time, but it can be hard to convince your teenager of the benefits of doing homework. We have developed some strategies that you can use at home to help your teen complete their homework more smoothly.
Understand Your Student
The first thing to understand about this subject is that, as a parent, you need to understand why your teenager is not doing their homework. According to the Washington Post, when students refuse to do homework it is because they do not care about what their teachers think. Furthermore, “If you have a teen who is accustomed to not caring about what his teachers or you think, then he is immune to your punishments and rewards.”
To chip away at your student’s apathy, build your relationship with them. Ask if they can show you their favorite video game, or offer to go on a hike with them. Getting to know your teenager is important because they are just discovering who they are and how they fit into the world. If your teen knows that they are loved and supported by you, they will start to care about what you think of them.
Reach out to a Trusted Teacher
Another strategy to help your teen care more is to “personally reach out to a teacher whom your [teen] loves and respects, and ask for support,” according to the Washington Post. When students know that trusted adults are not giving up on them, their barriers start to drop and they let themselves care about school, and therefore care about doing homework.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that everything will be ok. This is a relationship issue, and luckily those are relatively easy to fix. As yours and your teen’s relationship starts to improve, you will find yourself much closer to them and you will be able to trust them more.
Set up a Structure around Homework
According to Empowering Parents, most students don’t do their homework because they are lacking the structure and discipline necessary to complete their work. As parents, you should try to structure your student’s evenings as much as possible. Schedule a time for your student to do at least an hour of academic time after school. Academic time is an hour where the student does homework or anything academic that will set them up to succeed in school. For example, imagine that your student only has 20 minutes worth of homework one night. The 40 remaining minutes of the academic time should be spent organizing their backpacks, cleaning out their email, etc.
Homework time should be a quiet time in the house. Siblings should not be watching TV or playing video games in the next room. The purpose of a quiet house during homework time is to eliminate distractions for your student.
Agree upon a structure for homework time after school when things are calm between you and your student. Write up the agreed upon schedule and post it in a central location like the refrigerator.
Some students are involved in extracurriculars, so their afternoons aren’t the same from one day to the next. We suggest writing out a schedule that may vary day to day, but should remain consistent week to week. Your student will benefit from routine and structure, so the more similar you can keep afternoons, the better.
Use a Public Place for Homework
Students are easily distracted when they do homework in their bedrooms. We recommend you encourage your student to do their homework at school whenever possible, or at a public place in the house. Doing homework in the kitchen, for example, is helpful for students because you are there to hold them accountable and make sure they are doing their work.
Using a public place for homework is also beneficial to the student because they are being held accountable to their homework without feeling like they’re being hovered over.
Another great resource for students is Untapped’s Homework Center. Our homework center is a distraction-free place where we have specialists in every subject to help your student. However, if your student doesn’t need help and just needs a quiet place to work, they will find a distraction-free and productive environment. To learn more about the Homework Center, click here.
Help Your Student Get Started
Task initiation is often one of students’ greatest challenges. Task initiation is the ability to sit down and start a task, even if you don’t want to do it. Parents can help their students with task initiation by starting the task with them. For example, you could help your student figure out their first two math problems in their homework. It is important to remember that you should only be getting your student started with the assignment, not finishing it for them.
These strategies all circulate around a central theme: create structure and expectations around homework. Don’t fight with your student about homework. Instead, agree on a structure together and hold them accountable to the routine they created with you. Frequently reassure your student that you are on their side and you want them to succeed. This will help break down some of your student’s barriers and make homework time more manageable.