Show me a home where homework is met with squeals of glee and delight and I’ll show you a 12-legged spider doing the jig, whilst playing the ukulele. It’s just not the norm for your children to enjoy homework time, especially after a long day at school.
As a parent, you want to see your children doing well at school and homework is one way of getting them to helping them. But wouldn’t it be better if it were more fun? While ‘fun’ might be a little far-fetched we can at least try and make it a bit more bearable, even enjoyable.
Here are a few easy ways to make homework less of a chore for the student in the house, as well as the long-suffering parents.
1. Make a space that’s creative and cozy
Even an adult finds it difficult to work in a boring space, or one with too many distractions. It’s the same for children. Create a cozy area for homework. Find a quiet space where there are no distractions. These can include anything from the television to other technological devices as well as front doors (where guests can disturb) and windows (especially if there’s a lot happening outside).
It’s a good idea to get your child involved with making the space comfortable and inviting as possible. Let them choose the color or the décor on the walls. Let them pick their stationery and any other essentials like paper and books.
2. Be reasonable with your expectations
Unless you have a teenager or college student in the house you need to be realistic about your child’s abilities and understanding of the work they’re doing. Homework for younger children is more about developing good study habits.
Don’t get annoyed when they don’t know the answers or spell something incorrectly, Don’t expect them to get everything right either.
Educators recommend that a child spend 10 minutes per grade doing schoolwork at home. Also, check with your child’s teacher what they expect – should your child be doing the assigned homework within a specific time, even if they haven’t finished? Do they need to do additional reading over and above the assigned homework?
3. Track their progress
To make homework more enjoyable set up a reward system. Agree on the goals and the appropriate rewards together. For example, for every book completed the child receives a star on their chart.
At the end of the week, or when the chart is complete, a reward is given. This can be a trip to the movies or lunch at their favorite spot.
This is a great motivator but it’s a good idea to chat to your child about the importance of homework and what doing well means. You don’t want to create a situation where he or she is studying only to be rewarded.
4. Use educational toys
You can incorporate educational toys into homework without spending too much money or time. For example, you can turn the assignment into a game by creating fun flashcards. If it’s math, use candy to help with the concept. It’s much more fun when they can eat their answers.
There are also brain teasers like Scrabble, bingo and Connect Four and of course, there are a lot of apps that can make homework a lot more enjoyable too. PC programs are available where children are given a set time to complete a task and it tracks their progress.
Children have the option of playing on their own, with classmates and even kids of the same age in different areas.
5. Work with them
There’s nothing worse than having to do homework when the rest of the family is having fun. Instead of leaving them alone sit with them and catch up on emails, work out the monthly budget or pay the bills.
If they’re reading, use it as an opportunity to catch up on your own reading too. It’s a good way to show them that homework has a purpose in the real world. This is the perfect way to lead by example and for you to be there should your child need any help.
6. Don’t hover
While it’s good to be close to your child when they’re doing their homework, it’s recommended that they’re left to do without you hovering. Let the work on their own, without you helping every step of the way. If they do need your help breaking down tasks or understanding something, keep your interaction with them as brief as possible, and don’t be tempted to take over.
Don’t turn homework time into World War III. Find out what works best for you and your child and build from there. For example, my little girl loves playing ‘teacher teacher’ where I’m the student and she’s Miss Bossy Boots. While it might not work for everyone, it’s a great way for her to learn and before we both know it homework is done for the day.
Kevin is co-founder of Toys Advisors blog. He have a lovely family with wife Anna, son Tom and daughter Jane. He spends most of his time with his family, and sharing about parenting and DIY projects.
Need more ideas to help out with school?