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How to Stop the School Work Struggle

By Eliza Fellows, Studio 5 Associate Producer

With schools temporarily closing to stop the spread of Coronavirus, you may find yourself with a new side-gig: teacher! We know that the kitchen table homework fights are real. Parents don’t know how to teach, and kids don’t want to learn from mom and dad.

We asked seasoned teachers from across the state to share their best piece of advice for working with a struggling student in a moment of frustration. Read on, learn on!

  1. Give your Child Undivided Attention

“Put your phone away, remove distractions, and show your child you are 100% there to help them,” says Becky Henrie, a 7th grade science teacher at Adele C. Young Intermediate school in Brigham City. Henrie says kids know when they don’t have your full attention, and respond better when they feel prioritized. Time and attention, she says, helps a child problem solve their way through a frustration.

  1. Ask Questions

Asking questions is how 5th grade teacher Petra Lish stops the school work struggles. She advises parents to engage in positive talk about learning by asking questions like: “What is something really cool/interesting you learned about today?” Or “What was an activity or lesson that got you excited about learning today?” She encourages parents to create an environment that encourages your child to view learning in a positive way.

  1. Have a Positive Attitude and Growth Mindset

It is important for both the parent and the child to go into the situation with a positive attitude and growth mindset. Jana Tullis, a 1st Grade teacher at McPolin Elementary School, says, “Be preventative, not reactive. It will all start with how the parent approaches the work that is to get done. This situation we are all in right now is a big shift for both the parent and the child.”

  1. Keep a Calm Voice and Demeanor

“In my classroom, if I notice a child becoming frustrated, I have him/her take a break,” says teacher Jana Tullis. Jana actually has a calming area in her classroom where students are able to set a 5-minute timer and take a break.

“I have a small bucket of Legos for students to build with. When the timer is up, they get back to the task at hand. Nobody can do their best work when they feel frustrated,” says Jana.

Some other ideas for breaks could be: yoga, doodling, puzzles, card games, or fresh air.

  1. Have a Silent Freak Out

This is exactly what you think it is! Stand up and do a complete freak out – but silently. “Open your mouth, silently yell, move your body in all sorts of crazy ways,” suggests Elise Clifford, a 3rd grade teacher at Provost Elementary School. “Do this 2 or 3 times – together with your child – and see who can have the craziest ‘freak out!’”


We’re here to help! Find more of our resources for this time at home here.

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