September 9, 2014

6 steps to hassle-free homework

3 minutes
Cultural exchange

It’s no secret that getting your kids to finish their homework every night without a struggle can be a challenge. Though ensuring your kids are getting all their homework done will always take effort, there are ways to help ease the process for you AND your kids.

1. Designate a specific time just for homework
The website shares the following tip for helping kids get their homework done: “Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.”  Kathy Foster, host mom in VA relies on her au pair Natalie to get the kids started on their homework right after school. She says, “I come home from work without the stress of wondering whether all the homework has been done.”

2. Get rid of distractions recommends that parents “change up the homework/study surroundings” to provide inspiration and get rid of distractions. When host mom Kimberly Preston’s son Matthew was having difficulty concentrating on his homework her au pair Selina “set up an impromptu desk by moving a small table to his room. Now Matthew does his homework in his bedroom and Caroline can still play without disrupting him.”

3. Help children understand why their homework is relevant
According to the book Homework Done Right: Powerful Learning in Real Life Situations, “Students frequently report finding no purpose in their work and no relevant connection to their lives.” While teachers are also responsible for assigning meaningful homework and explaining why it’s important, parents and caregivers can provide this kind of feedback, too.
Juloy Raymer, mom to four children and host mom to Austrian au pair Madeleine Cabanand says, “Madeleine was working with my son Will on months of the year. When he was having a hard time remembering the months in order she created a season wheel—every day she and Will worked on activities for certain months (coloring holiday bookmarks, labeling when family members’ birthdays occur, listing characteristics or activities of each month) to match with the seasons and to give Will some context to why he was learning the months of the year.”

4. Stay in touch and follow-up with teachers
According to, “If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.” Likewise, a study funded by the Harvard Family Research Project called: Parent Involvement in Homework suggests that parents should be encouraged to interact with the school and teachers about their childrens’ homework in order to support their children’s learning.
Host mom Muriel Elrod praises her au pair Kelly for helping her stay in touch with the teachers at her daughter Sophia’s school. “[Kelly] is always checking in with my daughter’s teacher to make sure her homework is complete and correct and that my daughter is listening at school and following instructions (which she struggles with).”

5. Make room for fun
According to the website, parents should also make sure to “allow for some fun.” Kids need to have time during the day dedicated to pleasure and play. Kristen Wilder is a host mom in CT and loves that her au pair, Zara from Switzerland, schedules time for both homework and fun. “The afternoon is a balance of homework assignments [being] completed and fun and adventure [including] baking, board games, arts & crafts, or play dates with other children on the street.”

6. Ask your au pair to help
Isn’t this last tip quite obvious? Au pairs can be a invaluable source of support for parents with school-age kids who have homework assignments to complete. Ask her to make homework help a part of the routine and share these tips with her so she feels equipped to help your children succeed.
Host parents and au pairs, what are your best tips for helping children get their homework done?