Ah—the homework scramble. Kids have jam-packed schedules nowadays, and it can be challenging to knock out assignments efficiently. But all too often, homework gets lost in the shuffle of extracurricular activities and a myriad of distractions.
So, how can kids make sure it all gets done?
Setting aside the debate about whether or not homework is beneficial, there’s no doubt that it’s a staple of most kids’ academic routines. And while a missed assignment here or there may seem like no big deal, you might be surprised about how chronic lateness or missed practice can spiral into long-term negative impacts. Kids can quickly find themselves confused, getting bad test grades, and struggling with stress and anxiety in school.
That’s all the more reason to get a solid homework routine in place and make adjustments as needed.
Here are eight tips for creating a homework routine that will help kids and teens complete assignments quickly—and well!
Creating a Homework Routine
Don’t get us wrong: we’re not proposing that kids race through their homework and turn in sloppy, incomplete work. When assigned correctly, homework provides valuable opportunities for practice, and kids should take advantage of those opportunities.
It’s all about balance, right? Just like kids shouldn’t be turning in shoddy work, they also shouldn’t be up all night getting it all done. There’s a lot of truth in the adage “work smarter, not harder,” after all!
With that in mind, here are some useful strategies that will help kids get their homework done, done well, and all in a reasonable timeframe.
1. Build good assignment recording habits
Yes, the secret to getting homework done quickly and correctly starts before kids finish their school day!
Think about it.
If they’re missing key details about assignment instructions or where to find what they need, the homework process automatically gets longer and more frustrating.
So, encourage your student to ask their teacher clarifying questions in class or during the school day. Teachers will often establish clear routines about where homework assignments can be found (posted in the classroom, on their website etc.). Kids should be well-versed in these routines and accustomed to writing them down or recording them as needed. If your student isn’t there yet, it’s a great place to start.
2. Create a dedicated workspace
Ask your child: where do they do their homework? Is it on the couch with Netflix going in the background, or on the go between other activities?
If that’s the case, that could well be the root of the issue. A focused environment can make all the difference in getting homework done efficiently. Talk with your child about the best environment for giving their homework their undivided attention.
3. Remove electronic distractions
They deserve their own category because of how frequently they are the true culprits!
As most parents are likely aware, social media, video games, and other online platforms can be a major distraction if they’re within reach during homework time. Make sure they’re removed from where your child is doing their homework: cell phones should remain in a different room, try using websites like Blocksite if internet access is necessary for their homework, and encourage low-tech alternatives (a handheld calculator instead of a cell phone, a textbook instead of a laptop, etc.).
4. Make a schedule and stick to it
Encourage your child to take stock of the night’s assignments and stick to a homework schedule to make sure they’re on track. They may need help at first to estimate how much time each assignment might take, and support from you can go a long way here!
It also helps to jot down this schedule somewhere to have a visual reminder of how things are going. That way, if kids get distracted or are perhaps over-analyzing a homework problem, they can remember the plan.
5. Take time to gather necessary materials
Last-minute scrambling can be a major time suck. And by being proactive, your student can avoid that scramble. Before jumping into their homework, kids should make sure they have everything they need.
This should factor into the schedule-making phase of doing homework, and once they have everything they require, kids can get started. If you’re concerned that this process might in itself become a distraction for your child, it’s probably a good idea to support and/or supervise this process, at least until kids can navigate it independently.
6. Plan for overcoming distractions
Changing habits takes time, and expecting perfection can actually hinder progress more than it can help. Especially as kids adjust to their new homework routine, distractions and slip-ups are bound to happen, so it’s best to have a plan in place for that eventuality.
It might be wise to anticipate how kids can respond quickly if they miss an assignment or get sidetracked. Work with them to develop a plan for getting back on track, a habit that will be equally important in building strong homework habits.
7. Schedule breaks
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could power through our to-do lists without needing to stop and take a breath? Yes, but unfortunately, we’re only human! So, it makes all the sense in the world to schedule breaks into the homework schedule.
Ideally, these breaks should be quick and planned as part of the schedule your child has created, potentially with your help. Shoot for 5-10 minutes, something kids can easily pick up and put down so they can get back to work.
8. Pick a reward for successful homework completion!
Positive reinforcement is what keeps good habits going over time. Make sure to praise your child for knocking out their homework in a timely manner. Brainstorm with your child about long and short term rewards, and you’ll be amazed at how they can sustain positive change.
Take the stress out of homework time
With all the demands of school today, it’s a game changer to have one less thing to worry about.