10 Tips to Reduce Math Homework Stress

Nov 1, 2021 | Newmarket

Is math homework a stressor for your child? Perhaps it’s a stressor for your family too? Does the simple mention of ‘doing homework’ trigger an argument or meltdown from your child? You’re not alone.

Whether preparing for tests, completing math assignments, revisiting (or re-learning) previous concepts, or just doing daily practice questions, math homework stress seems unavoidable. Let’s be honest - homework in general causes stress for so many kids, and their family members who help support them outside the classroom. And again, if we’re being totally open, for so many students, homework feels more like punishment, than practicing, learning, and growing.

While some stress can be good for performance, too much stress can cause anxiety, frustration, depression, social isolation, health issues, boredom, procrastination, and feelings of being overwhelmed. When children feel stressed about doing their math homework, they are less likely able to focus and retain information which leads to poor grades and lack of confidence. Over time, as this stress continues or builds, studens stop learning and they stop trying because it feels impossible. So, it’s really important for kids to learn how to manage their homework stress.

It’s also important for kids to learn how to manage their math homework stress. Why?

  • Learning math is like climbing a ladder. The concepts build upon each other year-over-year. You start with a basic foundation, and you build upon it with each step, which can include re-learning previous concepts and learning new math concepts. Without a solid footing on each rung of the ladder, they feel unsure and not confident to keep progressing up.
  • When kids can better manage their homework stress, they are better able to develop and practice good study habits.
  • Homework can be rewarding and satisfying. If approached the right way, with the right support, homework helps your child gauge how well they have learned something, where they need more practice or support, and it teaches them first-hand what it feels like to learn successfully and succeed by working hard.

The positive news is that managing math homework stress is possible, and the experts here at Mathnasium of Newmarket are here to help! We’ve been helping kids catch up, keep up and get ahead in math for years because our Mathnasium Method works.

How To Avoid Math Homework Stress

Our math experts have shared 10 tips for how to make math home less stressful:

  1. Set clear expectations. When your child knows what is expected of them, they are better set up for success and growth. Remember that doing homework is not really fun, especially after being at school at day. It pulls kids away from doing other activities that they like and want to do – gaming, streaming videos, texting friends, doing tik-tok dances, listening to music, playing sports, etc. So how do you go about setting clear expectations with your children? Sit down with them and talk about it together. Go over what doing homework entails and how to go about it (e.g., review your agenda or online classroom for your assignments and practice questions), where they will do their homework (e.g., in their room, at the kitchen table or in the family room), how long they should spend on it (e.g., 30 minutes, 1 hour) and who to turn to if they need help (like a friend, study buddy, or family member, or even emailing the teacher).
  2. Create and follow a schedule. Routine is so important. It’s an effective way to build strong habits, especially when it comes to school. Routine is also a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety because your child will know what to expect each day. When creating the schedule, include your child so that they are part of the process and have a say and some control. It’s a great way to help them develop maturity, confidence, and self-improvement. Make sure the schedule includes chores, downtime/fun-time/relaxation time/’me’ time (whatever you call it), and any extracurricular activities that they are committed to. By doing this you will together be able to really see what each day looks like, and better determine when to schedule homework. Post this schedule in your home, in a place where everyone can see it. And be open to changing and adapting the schedule as you need to.  You and your child should experiment with your schedule to find out what routine works best for getting that math homework done with minimal stress and anxiety. You may find that your child is starting their math homework too late or after certain activities and are too tired to focus.
  3. Practice time management. There are so many distractions these days, that focusing can be challenging, which makes things take way longer than they should. When it’s hard to focus, stress and anxiety can take over and quickly lead to your child feeling overwhelmed and defeated. A key way to practice time management is by creating a calm, quiet study-friendly atmosphere for your child to be able to focus in. You can create this type of environment by limiting or removing tech that is not essential to their math homework, and other distractions like TV, radio, music, laptop, tablet, cell, art/craft supplies, stuffed animals, toys, and games. Another key component of time management is being organized. Many kids will use any excuse to leave the table or their desk to avoid homework, and it’s even more true when their struggling or stressed out about their homework. We suggest keeping your child’s homework space tidy and organized with the school supplies that they need for the task at hand – pencil, eraser, sharpener, text book, assessment information, any instructions from teachers, etc. A big win of practicing time management is that you and your child will figure out how much time they really need to focus on their math homework each day which will help you make any changes to your schedule.
  4. Participate in math class and ask questions. How math is taught has changed which makes it even more challenging for parents today to support their kids in their math learning. Encouraging your child to be a more active participant in their math class at school by volunteering answers and asking their teachers questions when they are not clear or understand a concept are solid ways to reduce and eliminate stress (both in the classroom and later at home when they are attempting their homework). If your child is shy and uncomfortable speaking up at school, from the comfort of home, help them draft an email to their teacher with all their questions or the things they would like extra help with. All of these are great ways for your child to take a more active role in their math learning, learn how to problem solve and advocate for themselves, and ultimately build confidence.
  5. Get a math study buddy. A great way to help reduce math homework stress is to find a math study buddy or even pull together a homework group. Either virtually or in person, having a peer or group of peers for your child to turn to make it easier for your child to reach out for help. Since it’s a classmate or friend they are turning to, your child will feel less pressure than reaching out to their teacher. Reviewing math homework together will give the kids a chance to teach each other and further strengthen their overall learning of key concepts.
  6. Breaks are beneficial. Taking a break from math homework is not a sign of defeat or weakness. In fact, it can do your child a world of good - for their mind, body, and emotional state. When overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated with any homework, your child’s capacity to learn is drastically diminished. Continuing to try to work through homework may only increase their anxiety and could result in a full fledge meltdown, which can take hours to recover from. Taking a break will give your child a chance to step away, relax, calm down and self-regulate. The break will also help them process what they are trying to learn and what they are struggling with. The human brain is definitely an amazing complex organ. Need some ideas for a break? Consider physical activity, (especially outside in the sunshine and fresh air), deep breathing, reading a book, doodling, or sketching, playing with LEGO, listening to music, playing an instrument, or watching a short favourite tv program.
  7. Make sleep a priority. Sleep is essential for everyone. It is how your body heals, restores, recharges, and reenergizes. When it comes to managing math homework stress, a tired, sleep deprived student is not going to have the ability to cope, focus or perform on much, let alone mathematics learning. How much sleep do children need? Research by the Public Health Agency of Canada found that that 1 in 4 kids do not get enough sleep. They recommend that children aged 5 to 13 years need 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night and children aged 14 to 16 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
  8. Fuel up with a healthy snack. There are lots of reputable studies and research that talk about how eating a healthy diet impacts our brain functions and energy levels overall. Things like memory, concentration, emotional control are all impacted by what we eat, and all of these are important when it comes to being effective at doing homework. Being hungry is not a ‘nice’ feeling. It can make you irritable and grumpy (hence the term ‘hangry’). And it can be downright distracting - all you can think about is eating and how loud your belly is rumbling, and if others can hear it. For kids, being hungry and not have a healthy snack to satisfy that hunger, can be a huge distraction at homework time. Depending on what math homework routine your child has in place, a healthy snack before they begin may help keep them fueled and focused.
  9. Be positive and present parent. Who doesn’t like it when some shows interest in what we are doing? And who doesn’t like it when someone shows us continuous support, praise and encouragement for our efforts, progress, and accomplishments? It’s pretty awesome, whether you’re an adult or child, to have your own personal cheerleader in your corner. Kids especially need this positivity from their family, especially if they are not yet able to effectively practice positive self-talk (where they are their own cheerleader). When parents and caregivers are positive, and present, kids are more likely to feel supported and capable. They are less likely to feel stress, even when they’re stuck on a math problem. When we talk about being present, we are not talking about a parent needing to be physically in the room with the child by their side while they complete their homework. We mean showing interest, asking questions, being that cheerleader, and most importantly, being available if they need support. You may not have the answers but knowing they can reach out to you, and knowing that you will help in the ways you can alleviate stress and motivate them to keep going.
  10. Celebrate! No need for a party, cake or gifts…it’s more about high-fives, hugs, and verbal praises. It’s so important that kids and their families acknowledge the hard work, dedication, commitment, and perseverance that was and is being shown, and the results it is driving (big and small). Celebrate by taking time to mindfully recognize your child’s growth in their math studies, whether that be an improvement in grades, grasping math concepts with more ease, completing homework with more ease and accuracy, participating more in class, getting a study buddy, and if they are advocating for themselves with their teachers. And don’t forget to celebrate their boost in confidence too!


Need Math Homework Help for Your Child?

If your child is struggling with math homework, our passionate and caring math tutors would love to help reduce your child’s frustration with learning math and help them become a more confident math student (and student overall).

Contact our math learning centre today through our online form or call (905) 895-6284. We’re currently offering $100 off and a free assessment. Learn more about our math tutoring promotions.

Happy Learning!