Do Your Homework. Are there three other words in the English language that inspire such resistance, tension, and frustration in our homes? As a mom and a teacher, I doubt it. Unfortunately, for many families, the struggle over homework is a daily one from September to June. Why all the conflict? We just want our kids to get their homework done. What is so hard about that?

As a mom, I want the work to be done now so that I don’t have to worry about it later. As a teacher, I know that kids are all wired differently. While some children eagerly want to get their work done right away, many need to take a break right after school. Homeschooled children may not face the structure of the traditional school day, but they do spend hours on their schoolwork, sometimes working in the same area of the home for long periods of time. They also need to take breaks.

Maximize break-time by helping your children choose activities that boost brainpower and revive energy. Let’s face it. School days are long. Our kids get tired and sometimes fried. Fresh air, creative hobbies, or reading for pleasure can help them decompress and prepare to tackle homework. Screen-time, on the other hand, often makes productive transitions difficult and may be better saved as a reward for after the homework is finished.

Setting time limits on break time will help your children remember that there is still work to be done. Setting a timer makes the “beep” the disruptor of fun, not you. Then you can say, “Honey, the timer is going off.” It is difficult to argue with an inanimate object, though some children may try. Resist the request for “5 more minutes.” This can become an endless cycle that delays completing the work and makes your evenings miserable.

If your children attend school, it is not necessary to check all of their work. Their teachers will do that. This is a real struggle for some parents, but it is actually more helpful for teachers to see what the children can do on their own. If you feel it is important to check homework, focus on neatness and attitude rather than content. If concepts become difficult, homework is a great indicator of that. It’s okay for our kids to get questions wrong sometimes.

While young children will need you to help them communicate their questions, older children, beginning in about third grade, can start to self-advocate. Many times, this will be all that is needed. Self-advocating empowers our children to become confident, independent learners. It can be difficult to see our kids struggle, but it is part of the growing and learning process. They will be better for it, and your home will be a more peaceful place after 3 o’clock.

In the homeschool, moms serve as both mom and teacher, which can get complicated sometimes, especially as children get older. Checking their work is necessary. Since receiving correction is difficult, wrong answers can cause strife that extends beyond the school day into family life. When the answers are wrong, it is okay to require that the work be fixed. Sometimes, reteaching is necessary. Other times, the issue is carelessness. Gently working with our children will help us determine what the problem is and how to solve it.

For younger children, up through about second or third grade, it is most effective to work through corrections orally. This will give you better insight into the nature of the problem. If after reteaching or reviewing a concept it is clear that your child still doesn’t understand, leave it for another day. Learning happens best in increments. For older children, first ask if they think that they have done their best work. Most likely, the answer will be yes, despite the obvious evidence to the contrary. Discuss the items in question and direct them to make necessary corrections. Sometimes this may require reducing the amount of work required in order to encourage improved quality. When the situation is creating impassable conflict, the blessing of homeschool is that there is always tomorrow.

Learning is the work our children are called to do. They may not always love it, but with our help and encouragement, they will get through it.