Bad enough my boys have to do summer reading and writing....but the thought of getting through yet another year of homework starting in September can be a major source of stress! Here is my personal advice on homework.

Each year I struggle with getting the boys to get their homework done, even though we have a well-established routine. But it stresses me out as much as it does them. Especially when it takes longer than two hours or there are 'special projects' they've been given that take up weekends. And the older they get, the more challenging it will be.

Well, in case you want to start fresh this school year, here are some of my ideas to get you started:

1. Get organized. I have already purchased some individual bins, one each for markers/crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, graded schoolwork that has been returned for keepsakes, and then a basket for other sometimes-necessary items: sharpeners, protractors, rulers, tape, paper clips, etc. And a stand to stack fresh paper for projects, as well as notebooks and school-lined paper (even though some of the work as the kids get older will be typed and printed from a computer.)

2, In terms of getting organized in a schedule, we will have a family meeting at the beginning of the school year to determine how we want to schedule homework time. Usually, since the daylight is getting shorter and they've already spent 7 - 8 hours in school and extra-curricular, they need downtime after school to ride bikes and eat a snack. I use that time to cook dinner. Then, after an hour or two of fresh air and unwinding, we have an early dinner and then get right to homework. (I know some parents like to bang out the homework right after school to have their nights free. I love this idea too and sometimes we will do that as well.)

3. Discuss goals and rewards. If you have a child in extra-curricular activities, like soccer or band, make sure they are well aware that they have to keep their grades up and their homework up to date in order to go to practice and perform/play. Also maybe set up a reward system for bringing home A's on homework and tests, or for extra hours devoted to studying for tests or writing papers. Although I must say that I make a point of telling my boys that I will love them no matter what their grades are. I personally don't want to pressure my children to get all A's. My kids put enough pressure on themselves to want to please their teachers and keep up with their classmates.

4. Try, at the beginning of the school year (perhaps at Back To School Night) to touch base with all of the teachers in the major subjects that your child will have, so that you know what is expected and how to communicate throughout the school year with the teachers. Also find out if all assignments will be posted online in case your child claims to forget what homework is due or says there is no homework. I have found that it is a snowball effect if you lose track of what is due, and if your child forgets something and then starts falling behind. It's also good to know just how much of your child's grade is based on homework. It might surprise you. Finding out about extra-credit assignments is also good for you to keep in your back pocket. Sometimes your child won't volunteer this information.

5. And, most importantly, know when to stop. Or, at least, take a break. I have learned through the years that sometimes an assignment is just too frustrating (even with my help), and after multiple tries and erasing and crossing out and huffing and puffing, your child is starting to really hate life and school. On these occasions, especially if we are past the two hour mark, I will tell my child to stop. I will then see if he feels fresh enough in the morning to try to tackle it before school, but I don't pressure him to do that. I will write a note to the teacher, if necessary, and find out what that teacher's extra help hours are so that my son can go get the help he needs. Most teachers offer an extra help day, usually after school, for kids that need it. Some schools, like ours, also offer a homework club, although my kids found that too distracting because there was too much noise and too many kids talking instead of working.

These are just my personal mom perspectives. Feel free to add some of yours below!