I know what it feels like to have homework causing stress for a mom, dad, and child. It was a dreaded moment in my house, as it would take no less than 2 hours for our teen son to complete his work.
We knew that something was off as the teachers swore that it should not take more than 30 minutes. Seeing that he had/has ADHD, we expected the homework to take 30 minutes more than usual, but it was clear that it would never happen.
After some reading, talking to an educational psychologist, and observation we managed to pin down why sometimes, homework stresses kids out.
3 Challenges that may lead to homework causing stress
Not all the three reasons for homework causing stress applied to our family, but they are possible and should be ruled out before moving any further:
Attention in class
In our case, we realized that the attention deficit problems were a major factor in the homework causing stress. Most often, it turns out that the child is struggling with homework because they do not absorb what takes place in class. As we already had a diagnosis, all we could do was to go through his class work with him at home.
We chose not to pay for extra classes as we know how he learns.
- If your child turns out to have a diagnosis that impacts them academically – an IEP (Individualized Education Program) may be the saving tool for your family. The IEP will afford your child with special accommodations like getting lesson notes from the teacher, special sitting arrangements to aid with attention, etc. The main point is that the IEP aims to level the playing field, and not discriminate against the learning-challenged child. Some programs will allow a child to record lessons for later review. Find IEP resource for both parents and kids here.
- My son finds stress toys and sitting on an exercise ball when working, to help him focus better. Fidget spinners seem to be the latest craze as well, although the jury is still out on whether they are indeed effective. The key is to let the kid try it out and see if it works for them. Not all kids are the same.
1 PCS Topseller Mesh Ball, Grape Stress Relief Squeezing Ball Hand Wrist Toy Random Color – 1.97D-JOY Tri-Spinner Fidget Toy Hand Spinner Camouflage, Stress Reducer Relieve Anxiety and Boredom Camo (Starry sky)Black Mountain Products 2000-Pound Anti Burst Exercise Stability Ball with Pump, Purple, 65cm
- It also helps a ton if you get the child practice workbooks that go with their school curriculum. These will help with closing learning gaps that lead to homework causing stress. Math is almost, always the culprit. Some schools (this will vary by country) do issue a curriculum outline at the beginning of each term. I used to take this and continue teaching my son with our resources and workbooks. It made him feel good when the teacher touches a topic that he already knows, and somehow he would pay attention.
Too much homework?
Parents rarely question this aspect, but, homework causing stress could be a result of work overload. CNN did a write-up with evidence that kids now receive three times the amount of homework they should be getting. If you suspect this to be the case, do sit down with your child’s teacher and see if you can find a workable solution.
My children’s former school (we are homeschooling now) expected the kids to turn in all homework by Friday of each week. We used the opportunity to focus on one subject at a time. We’d spend the Monday on Math and push it as far as we can, and we’d do the same with the other subjects.
Too much pressure or tiredness
- Sometimes, mom or dad need to loosen the reigns a bit and let the kid do the work without interference. They just need to know that you are available if they feel stuck. Replicating school at home could be the source of their anxiety. Homework should be an opportunity for further learning and discovery, instead of a test.
- The kid could just be tired, both mentally and physically. It’s important to establish an after school routine that leaves the child relaxed and refreshed. Some of the things to do would be to minimize screen time and introduce more outdoor activities (even if it is to play with the family pet) before homework. A child needs to de-school a bit and focus on other activities that do not involve school.
Experts agree to the notion of homework causing stress. Dr. Bill Baker offers some insight on the video below:
I hope the post did provide some ideas on how to relieve homework stress for both you and your child. Please do share if you found the post to be useful.