Homework: the dreaded battle you have with your child every day after school. Does this sound about right?
Many children turn homework time into an all-night battle of the wills with their parents. Consequently, homework leaves a bad taste in parents’ mouths and becomes the dreaded monster that invades their homes during the school year. As a teacher and a parent, I know some tricks that will get your kids on the right track to homework success. I’ve used these techniques in the classroom and at home. If you use these tricks consistently and firmly with your children, you will see impressive changes in their homework work ethic.
- Find The Right Place to Work
Every child should have a designated place to do their homework, whether this is at the kitchen table or at a designated desk in their bedroom. Wherever you choose to have them work, make sure that you minimize distractions (no TV, rowdy siblings, etc) and give them all the tools they will need (pencil, paper, etc). Once you’ve chosen a spot that meets these criteria, make sure your child does their homework every day in this same spot. Making it a routine is important.
- Set Aside Time for Homework
Children thrive on routine. In addition to having a designated spot to do homework, you should also have a certain time for them to do it as well. I like to make it about thirty minutes after we come home from school. This gives them time to go to the bathroom and eat a small snack before diving into their homework. I do not recommend waiting until close to bedtime or late in the evening unless you have no other option. Also, until you get the homework routine down so it’s no longer a struggle for you and your children, try your best to be home during “homework time.” I know a lot of parents who will run errands, visit family and friends, do fun things with the family, and other commitments smack in the middle of homework time. You will only break your momentum and put yourself back in square one if you do this.
After a while you will have more flexibility with “homework time.” For example, I took my younger son to the pediatrician after picking up my older son from school. It was in the middle of “homework time.” Life, as you know, doesn’t always allow you to plan around your family routines. So, off we went to the doctor’s office, but my older son was so accustomed to our homework routine that he did the work in the room as his brother got checked. If this happens to you, make sure you are equipped with a sharpened pencil
- Re-Fuel Before Homework
This is a very simple thing to do that will boost your child’s ability to successfully complete their homework without undue hassle. Simply provide your child with a drink and a small snack after school. Have your kids take a potty break after their snack and then make them get to work.
- Consistency is Important
Your kids should do their homework in the same spot (as much as possible) every day. They should do their homework at the same time every day. Try to plan anything you need to do around homework time. Consistency is going to help you build the foundation for your child to make them successful in homework without stress on your part.
- Positive Reinforcement to Encourage Your Children
Nothing turns a kid off faster than a nagging parent. Children will work harder when they receive praise for their efforts. For children who are resistant to homework to the point of not doing it, you may want to consider a rewards system (stickers on a chart, for example) to encourage their success. For other children, specific, positive verbal praise will help encourage your kids to keep up the good work
- Teach Them Homework Responsibility
To reduce stress off your shoulders, teach your children to be responsible for their homework. This means teaching them to keep track of their assignments. Teaching them to put their completed work in their backpacks. After you consistently enforce the routines for doing homework, at some point your children should be on autopilot and do it themselves with you simply overseeing everything.