If your elementary schooler doesn’t like reading or doing homework without resistance, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to spark your child’s interest in learning outside of the classroom. Creating structure in your child’s day with an after-school schedule will help them stay focused and avoid homework fatigue.
Here are tips to help your child use their after-school time well and ease some of the stress you both may be experiencing.
1. Set Up a Schedule
Agree on a “lights out” time and work backward. Here's a sample homework schedule to help you with your planning. This schedule is designed for a child who dislikes doing homework, so it allows multiple breaks throughout the evening. (It’s worth noting, however, that some children do their best work right after school, when energy levels are still high.)
- 4:00 p.m. Rest, relax. Kids need space and downtime in their schedules.
- 4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Sports, art, and other planned activities.
- 5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Homework time! Have your child do theirs in the kitchen or somewhere close by while dinner is being prepared, so they don’t feel isolated and can ask questions. If your child has a dedicated “homework nook,” be sure to pop in often to see how they’re doing and offer words of encouragement.
- 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m. Dinner and quality family time.
- 7:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Homework wrap-up (if needed).
- 8:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m. Free time! If your family typically watches TV in the evening, you might consider switching on a streaming series or documentary that complements your child’s classroom instruction.
- 8:30 p.m.– 9:00 p.m. Nightly read-aloud! This is the time to get your 20-30 minutes of daily reading in for stronger literacy skills. (Here’s some benefits of reading to your elementary schooler nightly.)
2. Talk to the Teacher
Your child’s teacher can tell you how much time students should be spending on homework nightly. Generally, students in elementary school should have between 10 and 15 minutes of homework for each grade year. This means a child in 4th grade may have between 40 and 60 minutes of homework a night; often this includes some reading.
Teachers will also have ideas for motivating students who are disinterested in doing homework. When you speak with your child’s teacher, raise any concerns you have about at-home learning, like if your child struggles to do their homework, since these may be signs of a learning disability.
Your child’s teacher will be able to discuss in-class performance, and together the two of you can create a day-to-night plan that promotes your child’s success.
3. Develop the Homework Habit
Once you establish a schedule that works for you and your child — including any limits on TV and tech time — be sure to stick to it. Consistency is key to developing good homework habits.
These are valuable years for teaching your child how to keep schoolwork, play, fitness, and other activities in balance. You’ll be helping them with an important life lesson — and hopefully establishing a little more harmony at home.
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