How to Make a Better Homework Schedule for Your Family

Father helping son with homework

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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, perhaps you need to consider establishing a better homework schedule.

A regular homework schedule communicates clear expectations as well as establishes times when homework is expected to be completed. Having a homework schedule also helps kids understand what is required of them. And following the schedule encourages them develop a good work ethic.

Schedules also help prevent procrastination and helps kids form good habits like completing work on time. Once the homework schedule has been in place for a few weeks, your 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.

Every school year, homework struggles are a common complaint for parents. For this reason, many educators recommend that parents develop a homework schedule with input from the their kids.

Once a homework schedule is determined, then there are no questions about when the work will be done. Likewise, homework schedules provide a number of benefits. Aside from teaching kids the importance of scheduling and time management, homework schedules 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 at least know how to pace their work so they can avoid all-nighters at the end of the college semester.

Of course, the pandemic is likely to make it even more challenging to get homework completed, especially if the parents are trying to work from home as well. For this reason, a homework schedule is essential to make sure everyone has time to complete their work with limited distractions.

How to Develop a Homework Schedule

When it comes to developing a homework schedule, you should start by talking with your kids. Get their input on how they would like to manage their time and incorporate their nightly homework. Here are the things you need to consider as you develop this schedule.

Give Kids an Option

If you ask kids when they want to do their homework, their first answer might be "Never!" 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. 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 have some time to decompress 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 assuming they are in school and not online, this time doesn't include getting to and from school or participation in extracurricular programs

Combine this with doctor appointments and the extra time your kids spend sitting or waiting because of other family members' work and school schedules, and you have a child who has already had a very full day before they arrive home. Consequently, be sure you allow them some free time before beginning their homework.

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 though between 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 your child's teacher about what can be done. They may need extra instruction on a task or tutoring assistance.

Pick a Homework Spot

Make sure you pick a comfortable and efficient spot for your kids to do their homework. This workspace should provide them with enough lighting, supplies, and quiet that they can get their work done without being distracted.

Of course, the workspace that you select should allow you to provide some supervision. You also want to ensure they have the supplies they need to complete their homework assignments. Asking for pencils, paper, erasers, and so on will just slow your kids down.

If you have multiple kids trying to complete their homework at one time, you may want to find suitable locations for each child. Sometimes kids can complete their homework together at the kitchen table, but other times having others 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, make sure that you 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.

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.

Expect your child to work consistently throughout the assigned time. Avoid having multiple times throughout the evening to work on homework, such as a session before dinner and a second session after dinner. The divided time can be so interrupted that children often spend more time getting into what they are doing than being able to work continuously.

There are some exceptions though. 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 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 the work and that a reasonable amount of work was completed 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.

The need for additional assistance may be especially true during the 2020–2021 school year. Trying to attend class and complete homework in the midst of a pandemic is not an easy task. Be patient and consider the fact that your child may need more time and guidance from you than they did prior to COVID-19.

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

Many times 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 the navigate high school, college, and eventually the workforce. Likewise, planning to do a little homework each night not only teaches kids time management skills, but it also allows them to engage with their studies on a deeper level.

Practice is important when kids are learning new skills. So, having a nightly homework routine enhances the learning that your child achieves. 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.