If you’ve ever had issues getting your children to do their homework, then this post is for you. We’ve put together a list of homework strategies that should help avoid arguments when the time comes.
No primary school student enjoys doing homework every time it’s due. So, what steps can you take to help them get through those ‘can’t be bothered’ moments? Here are our suggestions:
Establish a Homework Routine
The best way to deal with homework avoidance is to nip it in the bud before it arises. By establishing a homework routine with your child, you set expectations and boundaries. It’s important that your child is involved in setting the routine – if they feel that they’ve played a part in its creation, they’ll be more likely to follow it through.
Try to keep the routine consistent. For example, the rule might be that homework time starts every day at 5pm for periods of 20 minutes with 5-minute breaks in between until it’s complete. You could also agree that any other activities go on hold until homework time is finished.
Doing Homework in Different Locations
Children need a quiet, stimulating place to concentrate. Home offices, kitchen tables and spare bedrooms all make great homework locations, especially if they’re free from distractions.
But what can you do when your child needs that extra bit of motivation and the kitchen table just doesn’t look appealing?
Well, you can try to mix things up by changing their homework location to a different room in the house. Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to motivate your child to get started. Try some unusual locations like the garden, the conservatory, or even the shed if it helps stimulate their creativity.
Offer Homework Incentives
Sometimes the promise of an incentive can be a good way to motivate your child. Now, we’re not suggesting bribery, but if the promise of an hour playing video games, a trip to the park, or a sweet treat springs your child into action, then that can’t be a bad thing.
Just make sure that if you offer an incentive that you follow it through. If you fail to deliver on your promise, that homework strategy won’t work again. Some incentives you may want to try could include:
- Time playing video games
- A trip to somewhere local that they enjoy
- A sweet treat
- The chance to do something they normally aren’t allowed to do (within reason)
- TV time
- Time on the internet
Build in Homework Breaks
Children under 12 years of age have an average attention span of around 20 minutes. After this time, their concentration levels drop and they become distracted more easily. If your child is faced with a boring homework exercise that they just can’t get motivated for, agree that, to begin with, they only need to spend 20 minutes on the task. To make the exercise a little more fun, you could time the 20-minute period using an egg timer or a stopwatch.
Once they’ve completed the first 20-minute period, allow them a 5-minute break to do whatever they want to do, then agree that they need to come back to the task for a further 20 minutes before their next 5-minute break.
Allocating regular homework breaks helps break the monotony of boring tasks and gives children something to work towards.
Offer Homework Choices
If your child has more than one homework task to complete, try giving them the choice of which one to do first. By offering your child the choice, they’ll be more likely to agree to the compromise of at least doing something, instead of nothing at all.
Offering homework choices not only puts boundaries in place but encourages your child to make a decision and take responsibility for the task.
Consider the Bigger Homework Picture
A good homework strategy to introduce is ‘bigger picture thinking’. If your child refuses to do their work on the basis that ‘it’s boring’, ‘pointless’, ‘too difficult’, or any other reason, ask them why they think they’re being asked to do homework in the first place.
By asking for their opinion, you’re giving them the opportunity to debate the topic with you, rather than you simply telling them what to do. It won’t be long before your child reaches the conclusion that homework helps them learn, so that they will have more choices available to them in the future.
Positives Before Negatives
Whether your child is struggling to start their homework, or they’re finding a certain task difficult, take the time to reinforce the positive aspects of the situation. For example, if they don’t have the motivation to start, remind them of how well they did on their homework the last time and how good their grade was.
If they’re struggling with a certain homework exercise, praise them for the effort that they’ve made so far and the fact that they haven’t given up just because it’s hard. Sometimes, highlighting the positives and giving a little praise is all it takes to inspire your child to push on with the task at hand.