For teens with learning and thinking differences, homework can be a challenge. For their parents, battles over homework can seem almost as challenging. Here’s how to avoid those 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.
If your child waits until the last minute to ask for materials he needs for a project, the contract can specify that he must give you three days’ notice. If you don’t usually check homework until morning, the contract can say you have to review it the night before.
2. Use email to keep on top of homework.
Face-to-face isn’t the only way to communicate with your child. If he has an email account, ask him to email you his assignments, requests for materials or supplies, 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. Your child can send himself completed homework, too. That way if he leaves his assignments at home, he can access them from school. (It 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 some of his buds. And he may not have friends in all of his classes. In those cases, ask his school if they have a homework club or an afterschool study space.
4. Hire a homework helper.
Sometimes kids need a little more help than a study buddy can provide. And if you and your child battle over homework, it may be a good idea to enlist someone else to work on his studies with him.
One option is to get him a tutor. You can hire a tutor or your child may even qualify for free tutoring services. You might also consider online tutoring or ask his school about peer tutoring programs. It makes sense to check in with teachers, too. Some teachers will provide a study space during, before or after school and may offer extra help.
5. Don't set a blanket ban on electronics.
Emails, social media and cell phone calls are out. But some technology can help your child with his homework. Some kids play music to reduce other distracting sounds. Others find typing easier than writing and may use software to keep track of their thoughts. Many teachers also require technology to complete homework, even if only to type up assignments.
For kids who have trouble with time management, cell phone alarms and timers may be helpful. Electronic planners can let them stay on top of assignments more easily. There are also apps to aid with writing and apps to help with math. Check out Tech Finder for ideas.
Tell us what interests you
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.