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Hassle Free Homework in 5 Easy Steps

Homework has been a front-line battleground in families since I was in elementary school. And this was when we needed to rub two sticks together to get the horse and buggy started. Homework was no fun then and it is no fun now. Today’s students have 2-4 hours of homework every night!!! This is not an exaggeration. If they were adults and were asked to work an extra 2-4 hours every night they would demand overtime pay, join a union or find another job. Does this sound like you and your teen?

Parent: “Do you have any homework tonight?”

Teen:   “No, I did it at school today.”

Parent: “What do you mean you did it at school?”

Teen:   “I did it at school. What’s the big deal?”

THIS IS PROBABLY NOT TRUE.

Even though much of the homework assigned by teachers could be called busy work, homework has been a feature of American education for generations and it is probably here to stay. One day parents and educators will really listen to their kids and realize that mandatory homework does little to advance a student’s understanding of the subject matter. That said; let’s talk about how you can help yourself and your teen get through the nightly ritual of homework.

Since I am talking about teenagers and not elementary school aged kids, it is vitally important that your teen assumes responsibility for the homework assigned by their teachers. Not you! It is not your homework; you have already gone to school and wasted many hours yourself doing ridiculous assignments for well meaning teachers. It is their turn now. Homework is a lesson in accountability more than a lesson in math. How can you hold them accountable and keep your relationship strong? Not to mention your sanity.

The key word here is “relationship.” If and when homework does get in the way of your relationship with your teen, then you have another problem that interferes with their homework.  It may look like homework to you, but it is not. Your teen may even tell you that the problem is not the homework, it’s you!! Don’t be dismayed, it’s not really you, it’s them. This is one way teenagers avoid being held accountable, by blaming you. Don’t worry, but it is important to not engage in this kind of banter with your teen. Blaming is highly destructive and only serves to distract you from what is really important; your relationship with your teen. Here are 5 steps to hassle free homework.

 Your Teen is Responsible for their Homework

That’s right. I’ve mentioned this earlier and it deserves to be mentioned again. This means they are responsible for all of the assignments that are due. They are responsible for completing the assignments and turning them in on time. It is not your job to remind them to do their homework and it is REALLY not your job to DO the homework for them! (Yes some parents resorted to doing assignments for their children.) If your teen forgets an assignment or doesn’t do an assignment, it is on their shoulders, not yours. They suffer the consequence, not you. This is how teens learn. Eventually, they learn the value a job well done. If your teen asks you to read over their essay or check their math, by all means do so, but do so with the mind set that you are proof reading, not editing or rewriting. Help them all you can, but know your boundaries.

 Provide a Distraction Free Work Area

For your son or daughter to do the best possible work on these assignments there needs to be NO DISTRACTIONS; no television, no computer games, no telephone. Music is an exception because often teens work better with music in the background. This is not to be confused with music videos. In today’s world a computer is almost mandatory for students, but this valuable tool can also be a distraction. If the homework does not involve internet research then disconnect it from the web. There needs to be privacy without interruptions, not even you! The lone exception is if you are bringing them something to drink or a snack. (See tip #4).

 Use Grandmother’s Rule

 What I mean by Grandmother’s rule is this: Work BEFORE Play. Teenagers would much rather play before they work (wouldn’t we all?) but part of being an adolescent is learning self-discipline and Grandmother’s Rule is there to help them develop this skill. “But my favorite programs on!” Record it! You have the technology. It’s fine if they want to watch their favorite television show, but AFTER the homework is done. This also means that you may need to run interference for them, like if a friend calls. Since you cannot allow any distractions, make sure you tell the friend that they are busy doing homework and will call as soon as they are finished.

 Feed Your Teen Food First

I say this because I know that when I am hungry, my brain does not function. This is true for your teen as well. If the expectation in your family is that they complete their homework as soon as they get home from school, then it is important that they get something substantial to eat. If you are not going to be there, make sure there are healthy, satisfying snack foods for them to eat when they get home. The same thing applies to homework being done in the evening. If your teen says they are hungry, believe them, even if they ate only an hour ago. Their bodies and their brains need to be fed good, nutritional and healthy foods, not junk food and especially not fast food.

 Have Fun When It’s Done

Celebrate. Yes! Make a BIG deal about your teen’s accomplishment. Homework is a dirty job and they have risen to the occasion. Celebrate, acknowledge and praise the effort and be thankful for having such a responsible young adult in your life. Now they can watch their favorite program, call their friends or play computer games.

The earlier you begin this program the better. I’m thinking 3rd grade. It may be too late for that now, but it will not take your teen long to adjust to the NEW homework routine. They want to please you and if you are consistent with these 5 simple steps your home will soon be homework hassle free!

About Ray

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. I was the middle child of 3 boys in a moderately dysfunctional family. I was fortunate to fall into the Hero role hat afforded me the very best that my family could provide. As a hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family. To make along story short, at 38 years old and a new social worker, I learned of the dark secrets my family held. The more I reached out to help the family, the more the pushed me away until, I could not longer have contact with any family members. It's been nearly 30 years now. It's just better that way. As a result, I've focused my career on helping families, especially families with teenagers. I've always worked with teens, since I was 19 years-old I've worked with teens as a teacher, counselor, social worker and psychotherapist. I am still passionate about working with teens and their families, but am focused on working with large groups with multiple families in attendance. Part of my desire to accomplish on this website is to create a place for discussion of families, adolescents, their ever present angst. I want to share with parents of teens some of what the wisdom I've gained from 30 years of working with teenagers and their families. Please visit for awhile. Read some articles, make some comments or share a post with your friends or colleagues. I'm at your service.

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