Homework and Stress: Balancing a Busy Life

homework and stress girl reading pile of books studying

Many A Grade Ahead parents sign their students up for our program because they are shocked at the fact that their students receive little to no homework in their public school system. But, what happens when homework and enrichment activities begin to feel like just too much? What’s that old saying? “Be careful what you wish for!” Yes it’s true, sometimes the very thing you wanted so badly, can be the very thing that attempts to set you back. Don’t worry – we know the struggle of juggling responsibilities and feeling like homework and stress go hand in hand! At A Grade Ahead, many of us are parents ourselves. Keep reading to find out how to fit homework into a busy life (without giving up anything you love!)

Homework is important for success…right?

The bottom line is that homework is important, even if it’s not emphasized as much in public schools anymore. In fact, lack of homework is the reason that Parag and Meenal Singhal began A Grade Ahead way back in 2001. They enrolled their son, Akshat, in public school and didn’t feel like he was given enough opportunities to practice his learning through homework.

Meenal and Parag began developing their own math practice sheets just for Akshat to use and before long they had friends and family members asking for them to make worksheets for their children to use too. Soon, the Singhals began photocopying and mailing out worksheets all across the country, and a business was born – simply out of a desire to make sure that children had homework to help reinforce what they were taught in school. You can read more about Meenal and Parag’s daughter, Ilisha, and her journey with A Grade Ahead here.

So what happens when the very thing that you wanted—excellent supplemental homework from a great enrichment program—becomes challenging to fit in to your busy schedule?

Your 9th grader has band practice every day after school plus tennis lessons two evenings per week. Your 5th grader has soccer practice plus a game this week in addition to a weekly piano lesson. And your 1st grader has Tae Kwon Do three times per week and a birthday party to attend on Saturday. If that’s not enough, your parents are visiting over the weekend, and you have errands to run to keep your household moving smoothly.

Does this scenario sound familiar?

If so, it’s understandable that the extra homework you signed up for seems like it might be too much to keep up with given your busy life… but don’t throw in the towel just yet! Homework and stress do not have to be synonymous.

Is there a way to do it all without making it feel like homework and stress go hand in hand?

A lot of times we get feedback from parents who think that their kids must do A Grade Ahead homework lessons right after school each day Monday through Friday. We can see how you might make that correlation – with one lesson and four homework assignments each week, it seems to makes sense. And that plan may work for some families with fewer activities.

But for many families, it’s not realistic to think that you have the same free time every day after school. You’re trying to raise balanced children, and they’ve got sports, music or other lessons too. Good for you – you’re doing this parenting thing like a pro! A kid needs activities that develop his or her mind, body, AND spirit, and we think that’s awesome! There is a way to do it all though – planning.

It’s all about planning!

Here’s another old saying that you may have heard: “Plan your work, and work your plan.” We propose a plan to utilize some down time to do some lessons.

The way we structure A Grade Ahead is fairly standard across the classroom and Enrichment at Home experience.  There is a weekly lesson to be taught (by a classroom teacher or a parent), and there are drills and problems to accompany that lesson immediately. This is done in class for academy students, and EAH parents can select a free evening of the week for this purpose. Perhaps this is the day of the week that you will cook a family meal while supervising the lesson, or conversely maybe it’s the night you order take out, so you can focus solely on reviewing or teaching the lesson to your children. Whatever works for you!

That leaves three more “days” of homework to plan out. If you started the lesson on a Thursday, maybe the schedule works out best to complete two chunks of homework on Saturday morning while you are getting ready for your busy day. (Just because we call them “days” doesn’t mean that your student can’t complete more than one per day—just take a little break in between, if necessary.) Maybe your child completes the last day of homework on Sunday during a visit to Grannie’s. (You know Grandma loves to see how smart her grandchildren are!)

Get creative with your time.

Especially for very young kids, it’s easy to squeeze in some activities while they normally would be waiting on something else. Here are some other times you might be able to squeeze in homework, especially the last day when most of the lesson should already be solidified:

  • Waiting for a sibling. Whether it’s a piano lesson, soccer practice, chess club, religious ed class or something else, there are usually a lot of minutes spent waiting on a sibling. You can use these times wisely by bringing along A Grade Ahead workbooks.
  • Driving to and from appointments. If your student doesn’t get car sick, travel time is a great time to work on homework. And the big bonus: your child won’t have his or her face in a phone or tablet playing games that won’t help them as much as A Grade Ahead math and English work!
  • With a babysitter on a weekend evening. Ask your teenaged babysitter to monitor one day’s worth of homework. Let’s be honest: he or she probably knows more about math, English, and/or science than us parents any way.
  • In school during study center or lunch. Some of our older students can bring their A Grade Ahead homework to school with them and complete it in study center or lunch period or after school work is completed. Or perhaps your student’s bus arrives at school early. Instead of socializing, suggest that your child go to the library and complete some A Grade Ahead homework and get the day started right.

And remember: there is more than one way to succeed.

By looking at your week and planning ahead, you can create a schedule to maximize your family’s time.  And don’t stress about it too much, if you only have time this week to complete three of the four days of homework, that’s okay too. Your child is still getting the benefits of the curriculum. Doing ¾, ½, or even ¼ of the material still puts your child much further ahead than the alternative of doing no work.

 

See – look at you – we knew you had this parenting thing down. Good job! We hope that these tips help you fit homework into your busy life. Hopefully you can separate the homework and stress to get getting ahead with our curriculum! Do you share in this struggle? Do you have any other “life hacks” that have helped you balance life and enrichment work? Share with us in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Author: Audrey Webster, Marketing Assistant at A Grade Ahead


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