As a mom of children ages 11 and 8, homework can be chaotic at times. If it's too overwhelming, I've been known to write notes to their teachers to explain what I think the problem is. And they are almost always more then willing to take the time to help.
We are very fortunate in that the teachers at my children's school put a limit on the amount of homework they assign. The school's theory is that no child should work for more than one hour each night on homework. Plus, if a child completes her work at school, she won't have any to bring home. Luckily my kids don't see homework as a burden. They never have an unreasonable amount, so they don't mind. I hear from my sister-in-law about how much her son has to bring home, and I am shocked. No child should work for hours on end after being in school all day.
We have been lucky this year as far as homework goes. My son's teacher sends home a reasonable amount. He knows that as soon as he gets home, he can have a snack, a drink and then its off to homework. As soon as his homework is done, he can go play, go to soccer practice, or whatever else is scheduled that day. He brings his work to me when he is finished with each section, then I tell him what needs to be corrected so he can get back to it. Once it is all done, I sign his assigment book and he has fun the rest of the afternoon! A previous teacher had suggested we let him rest for an hour or so before doing his homework. That did not work for us because he got out of that "schooling" frame of mind.
Homework Help for Special-Needs Kids
My son has autism and is in a special-education class. I have it written into his Individualized Education Program (IEP) that he will have no more than 45 minutes of homework per night, which, in my opinion, is more than enough for any fourth grader, but particularly for one with the challenges my son faces. If his homework extends beyond that, I merely make an X through it, which is the signal to the teacher that he has spent his allotted time on homework. His previous teachers were fine with the time limit (which has been extended each year), but this year's teacher has made it clear that she doesn't approve. I believe she truly doesn't understand how difficult it is for my son to concentrate at night when his medication wears off. Additionally, his fine motor skills are very weak and handwriting is arduous for him. But she refuses to allow him to type homework projects. The IEP is very clear, however, so she can't retaliate against my son.
I have found that each of my kids reacts to homework differently, and what worked to help one won't necessarily work for another. One of my kids has severe AD/HD, and he and his older brother used to give me a very hard time about homework. Sometimes it was just too stressful to fight over. Instead, I would simply take away privileges such as snacks or TV if their homework wasn't done. Eventually, they got used to doing homework immediately after school so that they could enjoy their free time. When my daughter started school, we had similar homework troubles, and no amount of begging, pleading or punishing would help. My husband and I decided to let her do her homework after dinner, allowing her time to run around and play and get some of that energy out of her system. After sitting in school all day, she had a very difficult time sitting back down again at home to do homework. This worked like a charm, and we never had another problem. Just goes to show you that all kids are different and have unique needs.