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Solutions for Homework Hassles

Ah, homework, that tense nightly standoff between parents and kids. Sound familiar? No worries: A simple plan can help everyone get their work done and restore household harmony, says Dee Shepherd-Look, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at CaliforniaStateUniversity, Northridge. Here's how:

Make a date.
Schedule a "learning time" for the whole family, quiet time you can spend paying bills or reading while your kids do their work. This not only shows them that learning is something everyone does, but doing it at the same time each night also establishes a routine and helps them figure out how to pace themselves. A timer can help motivate everyone to stay focused.

Be consistent.
Base the nightly session on how long your oldest child is supposed to spend on homework, according to her teacher. For example, if your 11-year-old has about one and a half hours of work, then that's how long learning time will last. If a younger sibling finishes earlier, you can excuse her to play quietly until everyone is done.


the scene. Have kids do homework in a family space-at the dining room table or the kitchen counter-so at least one parent is present. But think of yourself as a consultant, someone who's there only to help with any questions or confusion, not to provide answers.

Allow for overtime.
If your oldest finishes early, she can use the extra time to read, draw, or get a jump on upcoming projects. But if time's up and she's not done, the rest of the family can do as they like while she finishes. This way, she won't feel that she's holding everyone up but knows she still has to complete her assignment. It may even help her be more efficient-she'll want to go play, too!