Do you struggle to get your children to finish their homework? Even newbie grade-schoolers, who love doing it at first, often lose their enthusiasm and start stalling. After a long day, you just want your child to knuckle down so you can get dinner on the table or start the bedtime routine.
Here are 10 powerful and effective tips from Scholastic author, Stephanie Wood, that are guaranteed to bring harmony back into your homework routine, whether your child is a kindergartner or a fifth-grader, a whiner or a procrastinator!
1. For Every Child: Do It as Early as Possible
On days when there are no afternoon activities, give your child a time frame — say, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. — to get down to business. The only rule is that 5 o’clock is the latest time to start. If you work, that means homework duties will fall to the after-school caregiver. At Invincible HQ, we have a homework table for kids to get some work done before they begin their lesson.
2. If Your Child Forgets: Create a Call List
From kindergarten on, kids need a list of three or four classmates they can call on when they forget an assignment, says Ann Dolin, M.Ed., a former teacher and author of Homework Made Simple.
3. If Your Child Is Intimidated: Build Confidence
When kids don’t get something right away, they may feel like they’re stupid and start to shut down. You can short-circuit negative thinking by sitting down and figuring out the first problem together. That alone can help him remember how to do the rest. Then use the praise: “You did a great job on that one! Try the next one now.”
4. If Your Child Tends To Daydream: Change the Scene
Something as simple as a special place to work can boost a child’s motivation and, in turn, their confidence.
5. If Your Child Procrastinates: Beat the Clock
Set a timer for five minutes, shout “Go!” and have your child work as fast as she can until the timer goes off. At that point, she can take a short break or keep going — and many kids continue. Racing against a timer gives kids an external sense of urgency if they don’t have an internal one. But it’s not an excuse for sloppy work, so tell them to go over it before they put it back in their folder.
6. If Your Child Is Lazy: Exercise
7. If Your Child Whines: Leave the Room
Kids who drag things out are often doing so for your attention — they’re enjoying the interaction on some level. Avoid joining in. And if you must stay in the room, have your child work in a spot that’s farther away from whatever you’re doing.
8. If Your Child Is in K-2: Keep the Positive Feedback Coming
Little kids need instant feedback, so it’s okay for parents of young grade-schoolers to correct mistakes. Then emphasize what your kid’s done well. After he’s finished, take his paper and say “Hmm, I’m looking for something . . .” After scanning it for a minute, say “Aha! Look how well you wrote your letters in this part!” or “This sentence is even better than the one you came up with yesterday!” If you praise specific improvements, your little learner will become more inclined to try to do a good job the first time around.
9. If Your Child Is in Grades 3-5: Plan, Plan, Plan
Many teachers will break down big projects into a series of deadlines so that children learn to budget time. If your kid’s teacher doesn’t, show your child how to “scaffold” the assignment yourself. Together, divide the project into steps, then help them estimate how much time each will take. Get a weekly or monthly calendar and then write down which steps she’ll tackle when — and for how long. To get the most out of your calendar, include everything — from martial arts practice on Mondays to the reading log every night so you both can plan realistically.
10. Let ’Em Vent
When your routine is upended — and your kid hasn’t even started his homework — ease frustration by letting him complain. Listen, empathize, and state his feelings back to him (“You sound upset”). Once your child feels understood, theu’ll be more likely to accept your suggestions — and better able to focus on what needs to be done.
Let us know which tip is your favourite and feel free to share this article to help other parents struggling to get their kids to finish their homework!
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