Kids don’t exactly eagerly anticipate homework, do they? Mom Lisa B. says she butts heads with her 10-year-old daughter nearly every evening about doing the work. “What should I do to get her more interested?” she asks the Circle of Moms community. While turning homework into a positive experience might sound like an insurmountable task, experienced parents say it’s possible, with a little time, patience, and ingenuity. Here, we’ve rounded up six tips from our community to help your child get excited about homework so that she stays on track in school.
1. Designate a Space
Creating an appealing place in which your child can study is always a good place to start. After all, kids are less likely to find homework enjoyable if they feel like they’re being punished or banished to their bedroom. But a designated study space stocked with appropriate school supplies and free from TV, radio, and computer game distractions conveys that they need to take their assignments seriously, says Melissa H. With an organized space and a box of supplies at the ready there is “no excuse or procrastinating while ‘looking for a pencil,'” Jennifer L. adds.
2. Set a Routine
Children should know when they are expected to complete their homework, so they don’t lose track of time and wind up staying up all night to finish. “Set aside a specific time each evening that works for your family,” Natalie Q. advises. “Once it becomes a natural and habitual part of his day, it won’t be such a struggle.”
Many parents say they give their kids a snack and have them work on homework right after school while the lessons of the day are still fresh in their minds. “What I have found that works is to let him take a break for an hour when he comes home from school and then let him start his homework. . . . He doesn’t give as much trouble now, and he gets it all done by the time dinner is ready,” Renee S. says of her son and his homework.
3. Make Learning Fun
If you want your child to love learning, then find ways to make homework fun. Elizabeth S., for example, reads with silly voices, or dances if her son starts to get frustrated with his homework. “He cracks up when I dance to things, because you know Mom can’t dance. [It’s] just a good break; to be fun is always good for them.”
Suzan M. and Tarina J. have their children racing against time to complete their homework. Suzan sets a timer for 15 minutes and bets her son that he can’t complete his homework before the buzzer rings. “He always beats the clock, yet left to his own devices it would take 45 minutes,” she says. Similarly, Tarnia pits her son’s homework against the time it takes her to complete chores. “Tell him you want him to do as much of his homework as he can before you finish doing the dishes (or some other mundane chore that you’d rather not be doing either),” she says.
4. Play to His Strengths
When your child is finding a homework assignment particularly challenging, it helps to reframe the problem using his strengths. When her son has writer’s block, Aliceon S. bounces ideas off of him with a “what if you wrote about . . . ” conversation. “He always comes up with something to write. . . . Once he has his idea, he is fine and eager to get it on paper.”
Similarly, Cindy S.’s daughter was having trouble getting her thoughts down on paper and would wind up frustrated — until she discovered she loves to use the video camera. “If she can record her thoughts on the camera then sit down to write it out or type it out with minimal direction from me, it all goes much faster and with a happy heart,” Cindy says.
5. Offer Incentives
Kids young and old frequently appreciate incentives for completing their homework. Moms members suggest stickers for completing homework, an ice cream cone or toy that’s being collected, a trip to the park, or some other activity that your child enjoys. “Let him know that the sooner you guys can get homework done, the sooner he may have time for other things before bed and such,” Elizabeth S. says. Tammy J. says after “months of frustrating evenings,” she made her son a deal that if he completed his homework, she would reward him with a meeting for lunch at school on Fridays. “Now he completes his homework every day, and every Friday I meet him for lunch bringing his favorite foods and then play handball with him and his friends. It’s been a win-win situation for us,” she says.
Parents should enlist their child’s help in coming up with immediate and long-term ramifications of completing homework, Denise J. recommends. And once you explain what the rewards and consequences are for completing homework, don’t lecture and nag, but just follow through, she says.
6. Create a Study Group
If your child works well in a group setting, then don’t be afraid to keep her company, or even invite friends over, as long as they understand that the time is designated for study. Chris M. says her son’s school organized homework groups at the end of the school day. “He enjoys the company of others and knows that when he gets home, the rest of the day is his time,” she says. Sueha S. says her family designates a time at which everyone does homework together.
“We find that having a friend come over to do homework together can be helpful,” Amy S. says. Even if your child doesn’t want or need a companion to help with her homework, you can still use family “together time” to pay your bills. Being available to your child when needed shows that you are interested in her and what she is learning, Crystal W. notes.