10 Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Work at Home
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- Avoid homework frustration with these simple tips.
While we would like to think our child is as excited to do homework or complete at home educational activities as we are, that is not always the case. Even for parents who homeschool, encouraging children to focus on work in the space where they usually relax or play, is an ongoing challenge. For the rest of us, homework is a source of constant friction, arguments, and annoyance. Many parents complain that they end up doing most of the work for their child.
It doesn't have to be that way. There are things you can do to can help your child, whether homeschooled or in school, without tears and anger. In fact, these tricks can ensure your child remains motivated at home and even when they return to school.
Whether your child is a procrastinator, uninterested, helpless or utterly frustrated with homework or lessons at home, here are tips that can help.
Identify Your Child's Issue with Homework
Start with identifying the real problem. A child that seems antagonistic and prone to temper tantrums and tears at the thought of doing homework might actually be stressed about the work he is doing. The child who pretends not to have homework might be uninterested or forgetful. However, this could also be a sign that the task is either too challenging or not challenging enough.
Sit down with your child and observe her doing homework or home lessons. Ask questions to ascertain her level of understanding. If she is struggling, you will see it. She'll be easily distracted and will fail to make progress even when she appears to be focussed.
Once you know why your child struggles to complete work at home, you can focus on changing this attitude. Here are a few ways you can help motivate your child.
Create a Workspace
Establish a single homework area and ensure there is adequate lighting. Keep supplies your child might need (pencils, pens, rulers, paper, etc.) within easy reach. Working at the kitchen table is fine, but clear it of other distractions.
Bribery is an often-underrated parenting technique. It can, however, become a problem if your child expects a reward every time she completes a bit of homework or a lesson. Instead, consider your rewards as payment for work completed. Use a sticker system or allow your child to "buy" a reward such as 5 minutes extra playtime before bed, or some additional technology time.
No, you should not have to praise your child for doing what he's expected to do, and too much praise can become meaningless. However, do praise your child when he completes a particularly tricky assignment or when they sit down to do their homework without being asked. They will associate homework with the pleasant feelings that come from receiving praise. And yes, by all means, post assignments and artwork on your fridge.
Hold the Fun
Make fun of your carrot. If homework time is supposed to be right after school, avoid giving in to the "just five more minutes, and I'll start" request. It will be tough initially, and you will meet resistance. But eventually, the expectation that she completes homework before the fun begins will make it easier for you and your child to get the work done.
Establish a Routine
Set a specific time for homework and make it a habit similar to brushing his teeth before bed. Again, an established routine will eventually minimize any resistance to doing homework. It's also a good idea to, within reason, of course, allow your child to choose his homework time. Avoid making it too late in the day when your child is already tired or during a time when extracurricular or family activities might create occasional conflicts. The goal here is to pick a time and stick with it.
Technology can engage your child in their homework and allow her to find answers or examples that help her to do it properly. Assistive devices that read to your child and help her organize and structure her thoughts and ideas are also useful.
Make Them Responsible
With responsibility comes ownership. It may take some time to foster this in a reluctant child but avoid taking full responsibility yourself for the completion of homework. Start by asking your child what homework he has. Consider letting him decide what to be tackle first. Make a checklist and encourage him to check off completed work.
Encourage your child to make lists and set reminders on electronic devices. Use an agenda or a family calendar to mark tests and other due dates. Set an example by similarly organizing your life, but gradually allow your child to find her methods of organization. What works for one child might be very different from what works for another. An organized child seldom forgets assignments or other work and will subsequently be more organized in their thoughts and approaches to homework.
Turn off the T.V. or music and consider banning younger siblings outside or to their rooms. Remove Cell phones and other non-essential electronics to another location. As adults, we know that any distraction is welcome when we are trying to avoid work and children are no different. Removing distractions will allow him to immerse himself in his work, and he'll be more likely to be successful.
Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome
Whether your child is aggressively, or passive-aggressively, fighting you on homework, remember that it is the process that matters. It will take time to engrain good homework habits in your child. Be patient. Understand that you, and she, will have setbacks, and that is OK. Be realistic as well. Not everyone loves homework; for some children, it will never be more than something they reluctantly have to do. Keep your focus on the good habits you are instilling, and eventually, you will face less resistance.
Homework time may never rival playtime, but it can, and should, be a lot more engaging.