Keep Calm and Study On—How to Avoid Homework Meltdowns This School Year

It’s that time of year again—students are swapping their video games for textbooks and their  swimsuits for classroom attire. School is in session.

While you can equip your child with back-to-school supplies like notebooks, pencils, and a backpack, it’s much harder to prepare for the looming threat of homework meltdowns. Last-minute study sessions and seemingly impossible homework problems can get the best of all of us—parents and students alike.

At Varsity Tutors, we’re here to help make the school year more manageable. Our Live Learning Platform is accessible via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as on desktop computers. With Instant Tutoring, your student can even connect with a personal tutor in as little as 15 seconds.

Looking to avoid homework meltdowns this school year? Here are five of our top tips.  

Tip #1: To avoid meltdowns, make homework time a positive experience

Homework struggles stem from a number of factors, including fear of failure, lack of comprehension, distractions, and a lack of interest. This can lead to your child becoming disengaged or giving up. But homework time doesn’t have to be a negative experience. Parents should encourage and help motivate students to succeed by providing specific feedback and praise. Recognize and pinpoint the root of homework challenges, and turn them into positives.

"Homework time can be stressful for many parents and families,” said David Pearl, LCSW, a psychotherapist and consultant in Nashville, TN. “It’s important for parents to positively reinforce when their children complete an assignment. This can be done through affirmations and rewards, rather than harping on when an assignment does not get done. Positive reinforcement empowers children and leads to greater self-confidence to complete assignments in the future.”

Tip #2: To avoid meltdowns, ensure there is dedicated physical space and time in the day for homework and studying

Parents should ensure there is a calm, quiet, comfortable, and designated study space at home, or outside the home. Jennifer Zahlit, who tutors areas like English, math, and social studies, explained that designating a space provides a child with structure, which is key.

First, determine how your child studies best. Does she prefer complete silence or a bit of ambient noise? Second, make sure that the space is always accessible to your child when he needs it, which may cut down on any excuses not to study. Third, make sure the space is stocked with the necessary equipment and tools.

Tip #3: To avoid homework meltdowns, break your younger student’s work into manageable parts, starting with the easier problems first

Large tasks can seem overwhelming at first. Without structure, homework assignments can feel impossible, leading to anxiety and procrastination. To combat this, break projects down into smaller goals. To do so, identify each step involved in the homework assignment, decide what needs to be done first, and then assign each part a specific timeline and deadline.  

[RELATED: How Parents Can Help with Elementary Homework Challenges]

Tip #4: To avoid homework meltdowns, help older students plan their work, especially for larger assignments and test preparation

Zahlit advised parents to stay engaged in children’s studies from the beginning of the school year. Have constant check-ins with your child to discuss upcoming assignments and workload to help with time management. Learning time management skills will not only help your child now, but also in the future. Remember that mistakes happen, which can help your student learn and grow. You can also help your child plan for work by tracking assignments in a daily planner or logging them in a computer or tablet.

As students graduate into high school, they have still more time commitments, from sports practice to piano lessons to spending time with friends and family. Parents can help their children balance these extracurricular activities to ensure they are not over-extended and still have time for their studies.

Tip #5: To avoid homework meltdowns, pay attention to where your student may be struggling and provide resources

Sometimes help is best provided by someone other than Mom or Dad.Many times children are more receptive to working through homework struggles with another person. With a tutor, your child can receive personalized attention, catered to how he or she learns best.

Instant Tutoring is great for help in any subject (including all middle and high school subjects) and is available 24/7. Whether you need 15 minutes for one problem, or multiple one-on-one tutoring sessions for deeper learning, expert tutors are ready to answer questions as they arise.

Finally, don’t forget about the importance of parent-teacher communication. Educators want nothing more than to help children succeed in school, and open communication can help parents know where to focus.

Remember—remain calm and study on. If mistakes occur, view them as an opportunity for growth, and find ways to support your child through any emotional moments. Happy new school year!


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