PARENTING: Motivating kids to do homework

Let’s be honest, the last thing a child wants to do after school is homework!

Children will whinge and moan and think of every excuse under the sun to avoid homework. Parents put pressure on themselves to get their kids to do homework and more often than not, the situation turns into the parent nagging, yelling or threatening punishment. No one wins and the cycle continues.

It doesn’t have to be a battle every day, there are effective methods to help your child do homework. Here are some suggestions to get out of the homework rut:

1. Nourish their brains

After a full day at school, your child is likely hungry so make sure they have a nutritious snack to fill their belly. Something with protein to wake up the brain before sitting down to do homework.

2. Create a comfortable space for homework.

  • All children are different and your child might need quiet to concentrate, so make sure they have a space with the least noise possible, whether it’s their bedroom, a study or a quiet corner in the house with no foot traffic.
  • Some children prefer to do their homework in an environment with things happening around them. The family dining table is a good example. Your children might all want to sit around the table and do their homework together at the same time. This can give it a classroom feel and you can keep an eye on them!
  • The kitchen bench is another good example. The kids can do homework while you’re preparing dinner. Think – two birds, one stone!

If you find your child is more at ease and willing to do homework with you around, grab a book or a magazine and have a little time out, while being available to your child if they need help.

By getting the family involved in the homework routine, your child or children will feel less isolated and alone.

3. Keep homework time a screen and technology free time.

Unless your child needs to do homework on the internet, such as reading and maths programs or if they’re researching a project, there should be no screens around, including the television and radio. If you are helping your child with homework, it would be advisable for you to stay off your phone. Your child will definitely notice if you’re present or not.

4. Start homework time with all the materials needed.

It’s common for a child to need a pencil, sharpener, ruler, paper… the list is long and the time wasted by getting these things one by one can add up. If everything is ready before your child starts their homework, then they can get straight into it and really focus on the task.

5. Decide collectively what time homework is to be done each day.

Remember, even though kids battle, they subconsciously like the routine, it makes them feel in control. A lot of kids have extracurricular activities, so homework time may be different every day. Work out what suits your child.

Depending on your commute from school to home or from school to sport, your child may be able to read to you in the car. A car ride is also great for brainstorming homework projects and testing spelling words too. Get creative! All homework doesn’t have to be done at a desk or table.

6. Ensure your child takes a break if they need one.

Sometimes their little bodies can go into fight or flight mode when they start to stress or become overwhelmed. If this happens, suggest having a play outside or sit down with your child and do a calming exercise such as the Minute Mindset Reset.

7. Rename homework if it makes it less daunting for your child.

Unless there is a specific project or an activity sheet, call homework ‘revision’. Ask your child in an excited and positive manner to revise their spelling words or maths problems for you. It’s all about your tone of voice and body language. If your child sees you are excited to see or hear what they’ve learned, they will be more willing to respond in a positive manner too.

8. Keep weekends homework-free zones.

Let your child know if they can commit to homework from Monday through to Thursday, they have three days of no homework – any child would get excited about that!

9. Motivate your child.

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Every child is different. One might feel proud of themselves for completing their homework and another might complete their homework knowing they will receive a physical reward, such as screen time or dessert or a special activity. You decide what is right for your child.

Homework is your child’s responsibility and not yours. Help them understand if they forget their homework or don’t complete it, they will have to accept the consequences form their school teacher.

Understand, not all children like doing homework. Just as the teachers at school support your child, it’s your job to support your child at home. Children in both primary and high school are still learning to self-discipline and self-motivate, some getting there earlier than others, so guiding your child while they’re learning is good for both you and your child.

Gold Coast teacher, Grant Stephens says his number one tip is to “make homework relevant, achievable and fun so that it is not seen as a chore. Always share work with the class, praising the effort despite the level of ability.

Originally posted 13 September 2018 Kids on the Coast magazine