Rebecca S. isn’t the first Circle of Moms member to share that homework can be a nightly battle. Of her daily struggle with her seven-year-old daughter she confides, "I have tried everything. I want to help her but I feel at times I am doing the homework instead of her.”
Like Rebecca S., Shannon T. also is looking for tips to ease the nightly skirmish over homework. “I cannot get my eight-year-old to do his homework without a major fight,” she laments.
Here, Circle of Moms members share insights, tricks, and tips for making sure kids get their homework done.
1. Teach Responsibility
Most Circle of Moms members agree that "Children need to be doing their homework, not you,” as Neva J. puts it, and that the only way to inspire a child to take ownership of her homework is to stop doing it for her. As a member named Jodi explains, “Certainly you have to help her, but if she can't do it (or won't) in a reasonable amount of time, walk away and don't stress."
Neva advises being very clear about your expectations: “You can be available for help if she needs it but make it her responsibility. I would set a reasonable time that she needs to get her homework done and set a timer. If she doesn't finish in that time because she is fooling around or procrastinating, then I would have some kind of consequence like removal of privileges." Cody S. is another mom who takes away a privelege: If her daughter doesn't get her homework done, "she loses her TV time."
2. Investigate the Cause
In some cases, when a child has trouble focusing on her homework it's because there is an underlying cause, such as difficulty with a particular subject, or even a learning disability. In these cases, moms may need to do some of their own homework to determine what the problem is, suggests Megan K. “...I would talk to the teacher and see if there is anything that can be done to help her. I think if she is honestly trying then it’s something the school needs to look into, as she may need more help in reading." Or, as Vicky F. points out, your child may just have blinked when some critical information was shared: "Teachers go so fast with things that kids get left behind unintentionally. Then they can't pick up something that is related to it in the future."
Vicky also points out that kids sometimes simply don't understand the teacher's expectations. She suggests checking in: “It’s good to talk to his teacher about how much homework he gets or if she/he can spend a little time with him to help him out more.”
3. Make It Fun
Inspiring your child to complete his homework sometimes takes a little creativity, says Kathy H., whose son struggles with reading and spelling. She checks his homework everyday ("This way he does the work independently yet still gets help in the end.”), but also goes to length to make the process more fun: "I made a tray with sugar on it for him to write his spelling words in (his teacher suggested this). We also have flash cards." Kathy's effort is helping, but, she points out, "It takes time and patience."
Ruth G. also entices her nine-year-old to do homework by billing it as "game time," and reports, "Sure enough now she is doing it.” And Sylvia H. says the secret is snacks and pacing: “I give her a snack; sit her down with her homework for 20 minutes or so. If she's not done after 20 minutes, or maybe half an hour, I let her stop, and write a note to the teacher explaining that she worked on it for X amount of time and this is how much she got done, and let it go."
4. Create Incentives
Moms like Rebecca S. and Veronica O. serve up incentives to inspire their kids to complete their homework. “I created a reward chart for my son,” shares Rebecca. “It was a teddy bear with numbers on it. Each time he did his homework without fussing he could color in a number. At number 5, 10, 15 and 20 he received a small reward. He chose a variety of rewards before we started and he could tick off the one we used. For example, one of his rewards was that I had to play soccer kicks with him in the backyard without complaining. Another was a cinnamon doughnut, as he loves these. Find out what your child would like and use inexpensive rewards and remember that your time is what they love most.”
Veronica's system is less elaborate. As she describes it, “I have given her a limit on how long it should take and even told her she can’t have her evening snack till it is done."
5. Allow Some Downtime First
Instead of rushing your child straight from school to homework, some Circle of Moms members, including Cody S., have found that providing a break for play is the key to getting their children to master their homework later that day. After Cody's third grader went through a shift in her school schedule and begin resusting the homework hour ("it is like pulling teeth”) Cody realized that she needed some down time first: "She really needed a break after school in order to refocus and rest. . . .I give her one hour to goof off and do whatever she wants but then she has to get her homework done."
What tips do you have for successful homework sessions?
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