Homework can be an especially frustrating time with our kids & let's be honest homework starts when they are younger & younger. I have heard lots of different stories of parents being frustrated with the amount of homework their kids get, as early as 1st & 2nd grade, as well as trying to get our kids to focus on completing their homework. I know homework can feel like a big tug of war. However, having some predictable structure can help ease some of the frustrations.
Some suggestions I have.
Check in with your kids after school about their homework. One of the things I have done with my step-kids is to check in with them after school & ask what homework they needed to get done that day. It helped me gage the time they needed to get it all done. On Fridays, I also checked in with them so we could come up with a plan about what homework they were going to be completing Saturday & Sunday. Again, it helped to gage how long they would need to work on their homework with the plans we had for that weekend. My goal was to help them organize their time & to teach them how to prioritize what needed to get done.
Have them do their homework in the room you are in. For example, have them sit at the kitchen table when you are in the kitchen. One of the things that worked best for my step-kids when they were younger, was to do their homework at the kitchen table. Either my husband & I are both were always in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, & we were available to help with their homework & answer questions they had. One of my favorite memories is when the twins had to name 3 positive & negative attributes they had on their Spanish homework. They showed me the words that they had to choose from & pointed out lazy. They both agreed with me & we had a good laugh.
No electronics before homework is done. One of the simplest things I can suggest is to have a rule about electronics & homework. On Saturdays, we did not let the kids play on their or our electronics before their homework is done. We used electronics as an incentive, motivation to get our responsibilities done first. When they needed to use a laptop or iPad to complete their homework we allowed but also monitored them more closely to make sure they stayed on task. Granted they may want to listen to music which always frustrated my husband because it seemed to delay the completing of the homework.
Decide what works best: completing homework when your kids get home from school or let them take a break before they start homework. Sometimes we want the homework done early so we can enjoy the afternoon/evening & sometimes our kids need a break before they start their homework. Either way, transitioning our kids from playing to doing their homework can be hard. I have found that having them sit down for a snack can be an effective way to transition kids to completing their homework. While they are sitting down, they can start working on their homework.
Read chapters vs read for 20 minutes. Reading can be a big tug of war with our kids. The best kids procrastinate while the timer is on for them to read & they often do not even read 2 minutes out of the 20 they are required to. I have found that kids are more successful at reading when given the goal of reading chapters and/or number of pages vs minutes. Also, finishing a chapter feels like an accomplishment & makes it easier to keep track of where you are in the book.
Read with them. Granted homework is challenging but some of my favorite memories are reading with my step-kids. One of the things we did on weekends was to get homework done before electronics, playing & doing the fun things. So, I would sit wth them in the living room reading my own book while they read. I was able to monitor their 20 minutes & the level of procrastination that happened. I was also able to cheer them on to finish books early so they could get their book report done early. I was also setting an example by reading in front of them.
The goal is to help teach our kids how to organize, prioritize & manage their homework so we don't have to!