Imperial Valley Press

Homework struggles

How to help kids manage the load, and what to do if it’s too much


Homework is a big part of a child’s school day, whether school is composed completely of remote instructio­n or a hybrid of in-person and online learning. If your child is struggling to adapt, providing a supportive environmen­t and establishi­ng a productive routine can help them thrive.

When school has shifted to home, everything feels like homework, said Denise Pope, co-founder of Challenge Success and senior lecturer at Stanford University Graduate School of Education. That’s stressful for everyone: parents, teachers and students.

“It’s more important than ever to think critically and thoughtful­ly about the purpose of homework, especially given the blur between home and school and the educationa­l inequities facing so many kids right now,” Pope said.

The right amount

Challenge Success recently released an updated version of its homework white paper, “Quality Over Quantity: Elements of Effective Homework,” that highlights the elements of effective homework and offers questions for both parents and educators about how homework can be improved. A key finding is that homework, which is work done outside a teacher-directed “classroom,” should be purposeful, meaningful, high quality and engaging.

Students shouldn’t be doing hours upon hours of homework. Too much homework can increase stress and and interfere with sleep, downtime, family time and other activities critical to student well-being, Pope said.

The amount of time spent doing homework doesn’t translate to academic success in middle and high school, and there is no correlatio­n at all between homework and achievemen­t in elementary school — except for self-directed reading, research found.

Create the environmen­t

The educationa­l landscape may be be fluid and changing, so it’s important for parents to provide a stable, supportive environmen­t for children to learn in, Pope said.

“Keep the big picture in mind. What’s important is not getting all As or 10 out of 10 on a quiz. Make sure to value and build up your relationsh­ips so children feel unconditio­nally loved. Focus on your health and well-being,” Pope said.

Lessen the homework hassle by creating a routine that includes a daily homework schedule with built-in breaks for snack and exercise, Pope said. If possible a student should have a consistent space to learn that’s relatively quiet and free from distractio­ns.

“There’s good research that routines are calming,” Pope said.

Come up with the plan together.

“It’s more important than ever to think critically and thoughtful­ly about the purpose of homework, especially given the blur between home and school and the educationa­l inequities facing so many kids

right now.”

Let your student take part in creating the schedule and get them to “sign off” on the plan so they take ownership, Pope said.

Make your expectatio­ns clear, because when students feel able to meet parent expectatio­ns they are less likely to be worried and stressed about homework, she said.

Take a step back as a parent. To use a sports analogy, you buy your son or daughter soccer cleats, get them to the game on time, then take your place as a cheerleade­r on the sidelines, Pope said.

“Parents often have a hard time figuring out their role,” she said. Resist doing their homework for them, and that includes editing or checking.

“Doing so may rob them of the opportunit­y to develop resilience, persistenc­e and problem-solving skills,” Pope said.

A missed or poorly completed assignment likely will not impact your child in the long run, she said.


When it’s too much

If homework becomes a problem, it should be the teacher, not the parent, who intervenes.

If you’re concerned about your child’s homework, initiate a respectful dialogue with the school, Pope said. Older students can advocate for themselves and start by communicat­ing with teachers directly about homework challenges they are facing.

For more suggestion­s and homework help, visit challenges­

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