School Days and Homework Stress

Contributed by Dr. Giancarlo Toledanes

From extracurricular activities to homework, the school week can place a large amount of stress on busy families.  If managed well, however, the stresses can teach children important life skills, such as time management and adaptability.  Here are five tips you can use during the week to help your family manage school stress:

Mother helping young daughter with homework

Schedule Time for Homework

School is often divided into set times in which different activities are performed. You can continue this at home by scheduling specific times for homework.  There is no rule for when to schedule, but earlier in the evening is recommended, because children can be more focused and less tired at that time.  Be specific, and stick to the schedule. Work a certain amount of time, and then stop working on homework.

Assign a Specific Homework Area

It could be a desk, the kitchen table, or another area in the house.  Make sure this space is clean, organized, and free from distraction.  There should be no television, phones, toys, or other unnecessary noise in the area. If the work area has a computer, supervise your child's internet use during homework time.

Help Your Child Get Started

Read the directions with your child, do the first few questions together, watch them do the next, and then leave them to finish the rest.  This allows parents to be involved and makes sure that the child understands the assignment. Be available and offer help if your child needs it, but never do a child's homework for them. Praise your child when they complete a task.

Allow Your Child to Play

With the amount of homework a child is assigned, sometimes it's easy to forget that they are simply kids.  Free play is essential for children to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills, as well as manage stress.  You can use free play as an incentive to reward your child after completing homework.

Establish a Sleep Routine

A good sleep routine will allow your child's mind and body to rest.  Poor sleep is associated with lower grades, higher rates of absences, and tardiness.  Most children and teenagers need at least 9 to 11 hours of sleep a night. 

About the Expert: Giancarlo Toledanes, D.O., is a pediatric hospitalist and clinical instructor at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He is father to a 7-month-old baby boy and is enjoying every minute of it.

For More Information

Download and print Help Your Child Succeed in School, a colorful tip sheet from our Parent Resource Library.