September. It’s a love/hate month. It means back to school, overbooked weeknights, and
strict routines.

It can be overwhelming, and can take some serious time management to get back on track. With September comes the ongoing battle of balancing homework and activities, and it can be a struggle to fit it all in.

Nancy MacConnell-Maxner, mother of four, knows these challenges first hand. “Often it [homework] is “feast or famine” – they have very little or they have huge amounts. The ideal goal would be for them to have their homework done before they do other fun activities but that’s not always the case.  I find they will sometimes wait until I get home because they need “help”…that translated is that they don’t want to do it until I get home!”

So how can we help ease the struggle of getting homework completed?

1. POWER UP YOUR LITTLE GENIUSES with a healthy snack before they begin their homework. Because many parents aren’t home after school, snacks tend to be whatever is in the house at the time. An easy solution is to have precut veggies in the fridge and a good supply of fresh fruit on hand. Keeping the snack light and fun will help curb their hunger but not fill them up right before dinner.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE.  Not all homes have the extra square footage for a dedicated homework ‘nook,’ however, if space allows, design an area that is simple and functional. The more welcoming the space, the better the chances of actually getting your scholars to attend! “The kitchen table tends to be the common space for doing homework.” Nancy said. “The high schooler does her homework in her room. Our family computer is in the kitchen and the kids can access that if they needed.”

3. HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB and a variety of supplies in the room, including pencil crayons, calculators, scissors, glue, etc. This helps reduce the number of times your child gets distracted and needs to get up in search of something. Older children may require a computer, tablet or printer, so ensure chargers and accessories are available as well. Have a few “fun” items such as Mr. Sketch markers or a chalkboard, and ensure everything has a ‘home’ so supplies get put back for easy access next time. When talking about objects of encouragement, Nancy added, “It [homework] might be more fun if we had a black board/white board to do practice problems on, etc.”

4. GET PERSONAL. Hang photos, inspirational quotations and your child’s artwork in the area to create a unique atmosphere. These will serve as a reminder of their hard work, and will show that you are proud of their accomplishments. If the kitchen is the dedicated spot, hang them on the fridge. If wall space is available, hang twine or ribbon from the ceiling or wall, and use clothespins to hang assignments, artwork etc.

5. STAY ON TASK by hanging a calendar or bulletin board within eyesight so your child can keep track of deadlines and due dates. This serves as a visual reminder and encourages good time management and personal responsibility.

6. BE AVAILABLE. “When one of us sits with them to help, they enjoy spending that time with one of their parents, and that motivates them to keep working,” Nancy said. “They really are individuals in terms of how much they need/want support from us.  We try to adjust how much or how little we do based on their wants/needs.”

7. WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? Create a reward system to encourage neat, completed homework with anything from stickers to points that can be redeemed for a privilege such as screen time or a special outing.

At the end of the day, we all want to give our children what they need to succeed, and with a little planning and persistence, you’ll have them bringing home straight A’s.