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How to create a no-tears homework routine

Save the drama for theater class: Here are ways you can get your kids to finish their homework without an argument or tears.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Check back with TODAY Parents every day for a new tip on starting the school year off right. Today's topic: Removing drama from the homework routine.

It seems like every night the house becomes a battlefield, with children pitted against parents in an endless clash over homework. While the struggle is real, there are ways you can encourage your kids to finish their homework without an argument or tears.

Organization remains key in tear-free homework, experts say.Getty Images stock

“Create a routine. It is based on what works best for your child. Some kids need to do it right after school and some kids need a break,” says Michele Borba, a TODAY Parents contributor.

“Figure out what works best for your kid.”

One of the most important thing parents can do is to talk with the teachers and ask how long homework should take. If an assignment should only take 15 minutes, but your child takes 45 minutes to complete it, it’s a sign of a problem.

“If there is a struggle [with] too many tears … don’t wait and call the teacher. A tutor may be in order,” she says.

Organization is the key in tear-free homework. Borba encourages parents to teach their children how to rank and order their work and create a plan of attack from a very young age. Young children can use Post-it notes to mark their homework from hardest to easiest. When they complete a task, they can rip up the note.

“They will always know everything they need to do,” Borba says.

Older children can simply organize their assignments by laying them out from hardest to easiest.

“Encourage them to do the hardest first,” she says. “Have them do the [hard] thing first and get it out of the way.”

That's because the stress of anticipating the hard assignment often causes the tears and dread. If they save the hardest task for last, children might also be too mentally drained to accomplish it.

Borba also recommends parents ask older children to estimate how much time each assignment can take. This will help them hone their organizational and planning skills and show them where they’re over- and underestimating.

If tears seem to happen in the evening, you might want to persuade children to start work earlier. Borba says parents can even have their kids start their homework in the car. She suggests putting cookie trays under the seats that children can use as desks. This isn’t the time for complex assignments, but rather a chance to clear a few small tasks off the to-do list to lessen stress at the end of the day.

Follow TODAY Parents' 14-day calendar for a tip a day on getting the new school year off to a healthy, happy start.