Have you ever struggled to get your child to do their homework?
Here’s the thing: homework not only helps a child do better at school, but it is also one of the first ways kids develop responsibility.
Learning how to read and follow directions independently, how to manage and budget time for assignments, and how to complete work neatly and to the best of their ability are skills children need for life.
However – getting children to do their homework can be challenging for parents, but with a little bit of routine and a ton of encouragement, it can be a positive learning experience for both you and them.
Here are some ways you can help.
1. Create a regular schedule
Children thrive on a schedule. Ballet every Wednesday at 4pm. Rugby every Thursday at 6pm. Homework every day at 3:45pm. Consistency is so valuable when it comes to homework. Make it part of their daily schedule and they won’t even question it – they will just know it is what they need to do to do what they want after. Consistency builds habits – and habits are carried deep into adulthood.
2. Create a ‘homework routine’
Adding on to the need for a consistent schedule is also the need for a consistent homework routine. This should involve three things – the timing, the location and the process. Maybe they get home, have a sandwich and then head off to their room to do their homework. The location should be the same space every day – and should ideally be used for only homework. Help them get everything out of their bag and establish what they need to do, but at the end, teach them to clean up their desk and put everything away. This routine of time, place and process will become second nature and you won’t have to fight them to get it done.
3. Make their study space theirs.
Space and budget permitting, try to create for them a study space that is uniquely theirs. Help them decorate it and put pictures on the wall above the desk of places they want to visit or things they want to do. The study space should be somewhere they want to be, not somewhere they feel like they have to be. Making them feel comfortable and relaxed in their own study space will make their homework time much more productive.
4. Get rid of distractions.
Homework will be a hundred times easier for you and them if they aren’t distracted by things happening at the same time. Turn the TV off, put the iPad away and if another sibling is playing with toys, get them to do it out of sight and in another room. Children, just like us adults, struggle to resist distractions – so avoiding them completely is much better than trying to build the willpower to resist.
5. Help them when needed, but don’t do it for them.
After a long day, kids can get tired. They know that it can be easier to pretend they don’t know something than invest the effort in working something out. Have a blanket rule that you will help guide them in the right direction, but that you won’t do it for them. If this is a house policy, they won’t waste their time on trying to convince you otherwise.
Homework can be a challenge, but it is both an important learning device and teaches valuable lessons about discipline and time management. I’ve found these strategies to help with my own children, but also in students I have supported over the years.
May they work just as effectively for you!