How to Make a Better Homework Schedule for Your Family

Girls doing homework together at a table with parents looking over them

Verywell / Zackary Angeline

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Do you frequently have homework struggles with your child or teen? Or, does your student procrastinate doing their work? Maybe they even fail to turn in assignments. If any of these scenarios resonate with you, a better homework schedule may help.

A regular homework schedule establishes predictable times when homework is to be completed. Once the homework schedule has been in place for a few weeks, you may even find your child will begin doing their homework without needing to be reminded—although you may still need to monitor their work progress.

Why Homework Schedules Are Effective

If you're struggling with homework completion in your household, or if you're having daily battles about allotting the appropriate amount of time to homework, you're not alone. That's why educators recommend developing a homework schedule—with input from your kids.

Once you set a homework schedule, then there are no questions about when the work will be done. It also communicates clear expectations; having a homework schedule helps kids understand what is required of them. And following the schedule encourages them to develop a good work ethic.

Schedules also help prevent procrastination and instill good habits like completing work on time. Homework routines also improve study skills and encourage kids to plan ahead.

Other benefits include developing your child's work ethic and organizational abilities. By helping your child complete their work at regular intervals, you are modeling how to manage time and projects in the future. When you send them off to college, they will know how to pace their work so they can avoid all-nighters at the end of the semester.

A regular homework schedule can help kids transition back into in-person schooling after months of remote work and other pandemic-related disruptions and changes. It also ensures that everyone has time to complete their work with limited distractions.

How to Develop a Homework Schedule

Mother helping her son on his iPad

Verywell / Zackary Angeline

To develop a homework schedule, start by talking with your kids. Get their input on how they would like to manage their time and incorporate their homework into their daily routine. A successful homework schedule allows kids to finish their work and also have some free time.

Give Kids an Option

If you ask kids when they want to do their homework, their first answer might be "Never" or "Later." But if you dig a little deeper, your child may tell you what matters to them as they plan their schedule. This information will help you avoid scheduling homework during their favorite television program or when they usually get online to play games with friends.

When you include your child in the decision-making process, you also will get more buy-in from them because they know that their concerns were heard. You don't have to give them their way, but at least considering what they have to say will let them feel included. After all, this homework schedule is about them completing their homework.

Allow for Free Time

Some kids can step through the front door and buckle down on their homework right away. When this happens, they reap the reward of getting their work done early and having the rest of the evening to do what they want. But most kids need to eat and decompress a bit before tackling their assignments.

As you develop your homework schedule, keep in mind your child has already spent at least six hours in class. And this time doesn't include getting to and from school or participation in extracurricular programs. Allow kids some free time before beginning their homework if that's what they need to unwind.

Establish a Timeline

Generally, you can expect about 10 minutes of homework per grade level of school. This means that a third-grade student will need about 30 minutes to complete homework. However, the amount of time needed can vary dramatically between students, teachers, and schools.

Find out how much time your child's teacher expects homework to take each evening. If your child takes a lot of time to complete their work or struggles with homework, talk with the teacher. Your child may need extra instruction on a task or tutoring assistance—or fewer homework assignments.

Pick a Homework Spot

Designate a comfortable and efficient spot for your kids to do their homework. This workspace should be well-lit, stocked with supplies, and quiet. The workspace should allow you to provide some supervision. 

If you have multiple kids trying to complete their homework at one time, you may want to find a separate location for each child. Sometimes kids can complete their homework together at the kitchen table, but other times having siblings around can be distracting. Do what works best for your family.

Put It All Together

Now that you know what your child's needs and concerns are for finding a time to do homework, you need to come up with the actual plan. Creating a homework routine is really just one piece of creating a daily school year routine.

For the homework time itself, get it down on paper so you can see exactly what they will be doing and when they will be doing it. Do this for each day of the week if you have different activities on different weekdays. Students who are assigned larger projects will need to review their homework plans regularly to make adjustments as needed.

Expect your child to work consistently throughout the assigned time. Avoid having multiple homework sessions, such as one before dinner and a second one after dinner. Starting and stopping may mean children may spend more time getting into what they are doing than working continuously.

Be Consistent

Once you have decided on a time to do homework, stick to the plan! It usually takes about three weeks for most children to really get into the habit of their new schedule.

If your child or teen has difficulty maintaining concentration for the length of time that their homework should take, then you may want to carefully consider breaking up the work to take advantage of the time when your child can focus.

This added step is especially important for children and teens with depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may benefit from multiple smaller work sessions and more frequent breaks.

Other Considerations

Even though the idea behind creating a homework schedule is to get your child to work consistently and independently, you may need to look over their work when they are done. This is especially important for younger children.

Make sure they understand their assignments and that they completed a reasonable amount of work during the homework session. If you find your child is having trouble actually working during their homework time, troubleshoot to find out what might be the issue. Sometimes kids need extra help and other times they simply need more motivation to get their work done.

Be patient as kids readjust to being back in the classroom after the difficulties of the 2020-2021 school year. Trying to attend class and complete homework after living through a pandemic is not an easy task. Your child may need more time and guidance from you and their teachers than they did prior to COVID-19.

If you find that your child continues to struggle with homework even with a schedule in place, you might need to dig a little deeper. Consider discussing your child's issues with their teacher or pediatrician.

Sometimes kids are reluctant to complete their homework because of undiagnosed learning disabilities. It could be that your child struggles with reading comprehension or has a processing disorder. Or it could be that your child is struggling with a mental health issue like anxiety.

A Word From Verywell

Establishing a homework schedule allows children to build some important life skills that will help them as they navigate high school, college, and eventually the workforce. Practice is important when kids are learning new skills. So, having a nightly homework routine enhances your child's learning. Just be sure you aren't requiring homework time at the expense of being a kid. Having time to play is just as important to a child's development as learning new material.

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  1. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Updated September 2019.