How to Avoid the Homework Hassle

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School has pretty much started across the country and now our focus as parents goes from the hustle and bustle of the Back to School Craze to Common School Day Worries such as how to get your kids to do their homework.

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Photo courtesy Anna Gutemuth via Flickr

Seven Simple Steps for Helping Your Kids Develop A Regular Homework Routine

Making the adjustment from a summer of fun to sitting in a desk all day then coming home to do even more work in the form of homework can be a very difficult change for a child. Many teachers know this and tend to ease kids back into homework after they have gotten used to being back in class. But what happens when your child comes home and doesn’t want to do their homework at all? Instead of arguing, yelling and pleading, try using some of the ideas below to begin encouraging your kids to develop and stick to a regular homework routine.

Kids Do Not Like Homework

The first thing you need to come to terms with is that most children do not like to do homework, especially after they already spent the majority of the day doing work at school. You probably didn’t like it when you were a child, and more than likely your kids feel the same way. So instead of wasting your time trying to get them to like it, focus on getting them to do it. It may help if you eliminate the word “homework”, and have “study time” instead. This simple word change can even possibly go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child trying to tell you they don’t have any homework. Study time is about studying, even if you don’t have any homework.

Be a Facilitator, Not an Enforcer

You cannot make your child learn, just like you cannot make them do their homework. Sure, they may respond to punishment or loss of privileges for a while, but in the long run, that will not help them develop good study and working skills.  In fact, if you sit there and continuously nag at them to get it done, you are investing more energy into it than they are. Plus, nagging at them until they give in doesn’t teach any sort of self-discipline, instead it teaches that in order to get you to stop nagging they need to do their homework!  

Your job as a parent should be to facilitate your child in doing their homework. Provide a comfortable, well-lit, quiet spot for them to do their work. Make sure there are no distractions around including television, phones, and other kids playing. Make sure they have everything they need to do their homework including pens, paper, calculator, and anything else they may need so they don’t have the excuse of getting up and looking, or the excuse of “I can’t do it because I don’t have…”. Oh, and always make sure to include a dictionary!

Establish a Study Routine

Set a time for study time. This needs to be the same time everyday, and once that time is set, stick to it. Let your child have some input into this decision as it can make them feel like they are having some choice in the matter.  We also always give a five-minute warning letting our son know that study time is approaching. This gives him time to bring his current activity to an end, and to get prepared to start.

If you have younger children, consider the fact that they may get overwhelmed with the tasks that they need to complete. To help, try making an ordered checklist of assignments or even creating a schedule according to due dates.

Walk Away and Leave Them Be

Are you one of those parents who finds it difficult to walk away? Instead of leaving, you find yourself hovering over your child as they do their work? Don’t do this. First of all it gives your child the impression that you don’t trust them to do their work. Secondly, it makes it too tempting for your child to ask you for the answers. Walk away and leave them to it. It is completely reasonable to ask your child to look over the finished product if you want or need to, but let them do the work on their own.

Take a Break

Consider giving your kids a break when they are doing their work, especially if they have several different assignments. A 15-minute break every hour may help them keep their focus. Let them get up and walk around, or get a snack. Then when that 15 minutes is up, have them get back to it!

Praise and Rewards Your Child’s Efforts

Always make sure to praise your child’s efforts concerning homework, and keep any criticism constructive. Once they finish their assignments, let them know that you are proud of them for doing so. If you are in the habit of giving monetary rewards or special surprises, consider that it may be time to end that practice. Why? Because this type of praise only has short-term gains, and it teaches your child to learn for rewards, not to learn for the love of learning. Instead, make positive verbal comments on the behavior you wish to encourage, and leave it at that.

Do Your Own Homework

Why not use this time to get some of your own work done? After all, kids learn by the behaviors their parents model. Do the dishes or fold the laundry. Make sure to keep the TV off, and use this time wisely. If you engage in noisy activities then you will be distracting your kids. Model to your children that study time is a commitment.  If you won’t commit to it, they why would you expect you children to?

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