When Your Child Refuses to do Homework Alone
Ways to ease your child into an independent approach to homework.
Get ahead of homework struggles by creating a plan to help your child be independent with assignments.
When your child struggles to do homework independently, the natural inclination is to step in and help. This guidance provides an immediate solution but can also create an unhealthy habit of dependency. When we cross that boundary of offering too much help, it also has a negative impact on the teacher’s ability to honestly assess and therefore teach our child based on their specific needs.
Although we want our kids to know that we are always here for them, we also want to instill in them independent problem-solving skills. When kids go from being stuck to being unstuck all by themselves, it builds confidence, resilience and the strength to face challenges.
Here are some ways to break the dependency cycle and increase your child’s independence:
1. Develop a plan for your child to accomplish before an adult can enter the space
- Take out homework agenda
- Choose what assignment to do first
- Write name and date on homework assignments
2. Create a list of three things your child can do when they don't understand the assignment
- Underline action words in the directions so you are clear on what the teacher is asking
- Read the question out loud and put it into your own words
- Look at past homework and class notes to help remember how to solve the problem
3. Create a care package of activities that your child can do when they feel overwhelmed
Strong emotions can distract us from completing our work. When this happens, it's OK to take a break and do an activity that brings us joy and can create a sense of calm. The activities vary depending on your child’s interests.
- Coloring book and colored pencils
- List of physical activities such as jumping jacks, stress ball, push-ups or five deep breathes
- Playlist of music that makes your child smile
Have your child try one of these activities for an agreed upon amount of time before he/she can ask for help.
4. Set “Support Hours”
Set a consistent time frame when you are available to help. This teaches your child to plan ahead and to take initiative. If your child asks for help outside those available hours, you can simply say “I am no longer available to help tonight but I will be available during these times tomorrow.”
5. Praise your child
Increasing independence can feel scary and intimidating, so when you notice your child accomplish a task independently or work through a problem even when it’s challenging, offer them loads of specific praise and support.
Taking a step back when you see your child is struggling can be difficult. When you prepare for these moments with your child in advance, you equip them with tools that will help them to problem-solve for a lifetime.