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Tuesdays with Jane: Does Your Child Delay Homework?

If you’re a “Well begun is half done” person—you dig right into chores to get them off your plate as fast as you can—then you probably get frustrated if your child doesn’t want to sit down at the kitchen table right after school and polish off those math problems. You may have even said things like, “Just do it before you go outside. Then you’ll know you’re free the rest of the day!”

But if your child stares into space when you have him or her sit at the table until they’re done with their homework, maybe your child is wired a bit differently. After all, it was a long day at school—they may need to reenergize their bodies before their minds can truly concentrate.

Try this to build lasting homework habits—ones they’ll still use when they’re in charge of their own lives, like in college! Ask them how long they think their homework will take. Write it down. Then ask, “When are you going to start? Does that give you enough time?” This puts them in control of the schedule, which might help them do it when they are ready to concentrate.

It’s still okay to tell them, “It has to be done before your [insert name of favorite television show]. And, bedtime is at 8:00, whether you’re done with homework or not.”

This will keep homework from becoming a battle of wills if you add a few other features. First, help them track how long they actually spent on the assignment. If their estimates are off, join them in making the estimates until their skills improve. Many an adult never learned how to estimate how long things will take—and constantly finds that things take longer than they thought they would!

And, a key rule is that if they don’t manage to finish before bedtime one night, you’re in charge again the next night. Often, wanting to stay in charge of the when and how of homework is motivation enough to help children learn to estimate well and choose a time that really works for them! And that’s far more pleasant for parents than fighting about homework night after night!

By Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is