For teens and tweens who learn and think differently, homework can be a challenge. And for their families, battles over homework can seem just as difficult. Here are five ways to avoid homework fights and make the process easier for everyone.
1. Write up a homework contract.
Agreeing on a homework contract can ease the tensions that lead to homework battles. A contract can outline a clear set of rules for both of you, based on what you need from each other.
Do you have a child who waits until the last minute to tell you about school projects? If so, the contract can say that you should get three days’ notice. If you don’t usually check homework until morning, the contract can say you have to see it the night before.
2. Use email to keep on top of homework.
Face-to-face communication isn’t your only option. If your child has an email account or mobile phone, try communicating that way about upcoming assignments. You can keep track of requests for materials and questions. That way you’ll be prepared to help when you’re both back home.
Email is also a good way to reach your child’s teachers if you have questions or concerns. You can also show your child how easy it is to email something to yourself. Practice together, each using your own email address.
Forgotten assignments will be a thing of the past if your child can access email from school. This strategy also prepares teens for college, where professors will want papers to be emailed and online discussions are common.
3. Encourage study buddies.
Some teens work better with friends. They may find it easier to understand something when a “study buddy” explains it. Studying with a pal can also provide some social skills practice if that’s an issue for your teen.
Of course, your child may tend to goof off with close pals. And friends aren’t always in the same classes. In those cases, ask the school if they have a homework club or an afterschool study space where older kids can work together.
4. Find a homework helper.
Sometimes older kids need a little more help than they can get from a study buddy. If you and your child argue about homework, try finding someone who can help with keeping up with everything.
Start with your child’s teachers — it makes sense to check in with them. Some teachers will provide a study space during, before, or after school and may offer extra help. Your child’s school might offer peer tutoring programs as well. Your child may even qualify for free tutoring services.
5. Don’t set a blanket ban on electronics.
Emails, social media, and cell phone calls are out during homework. Still, some technology can help your child get through homework. Some older kids play music to reduce other distracting sounds.
Other kids find typing easier than writing. They may use organization apps or software to keep track of their thoughts. And lots of teachers also require technology to complete homework, even if it’s only to type up assignments.
For teens and tweens who have trouble with time management, cell phone alarms and timers may help a lot. Electronic planners can help them stay on top of assignments more easily. Apps to aid with writing and apps to help with math are also worth looking into.
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.
Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.