Everyday after school, my children ride the bus home, they are greeted with a huge hug, a discussion about their day and an afternoon snack. Upon completion of the snack, we gather around the kitchen table for Homework Time. My two youngest (5 and 2) don’t have homework as assigned by their teachers, so I give them independent age appropriate work to do to get them into the habit. DS7, on the other hand, has a weekly list of Homework chores provided by his teacher. The homework consists of learning to spell a sentence in French, 1 math worksheet, and 1 reading assignment. The homework is designed to take approximately 15 minutes and its to help the child expand upon what they have learned at school. Unfortunately, in our house, homework time can last from 30-60 minutes and sound a lot like World War 3.
It begins when I say “It’s homework time!”. My two youngest run to the table in glee, my DS7 begins to whine. The battle begin. DS7 complains he can’t do it, he does’t want to do, he’d rather be doing xyz. I try to explain to him that it is a habit he is going to have to get use to and the faster he buckles down, the faster he will be able to enjoy activity xyz. Next come the tears! I have tried sitting with him, I have tried leaving him to do it himself, and I have tried coming up with rewards and games to make the task easier. No matter what I do, Homework time is a stressful time for me and my son!
The problem with homework time is it is hard to convince your child that grades are important. Your child (especially at a young age) doesn’t take school as seriously as you do. They don’t understand the big picture and that what they are learning today will be built upon for years to come. It is hard to remember that the reason they fight you is not that they aren’t motivated, but rather they are motivated to do what they want to do. Its important at a young age to reinforce the importance of homework and create studying skills needed to excel in the future.
Ok so now what?
5 Strategies to help polish homework habits with kids
1. Location – The place were you plan to do your homework needs to be quiet, comfortable and able to accommodate the equipment required to do the task at hand. A kitchen or dinning room table is a great area that allow the child to focus on their work, while not feeling isolated from the rest of the house.
2. Remove distractions – This is very important! Especially with little kids, their motivation is to play with their toys, watch TV or play video games. If one of these devices is in the study area, the child is going to be tempted to play or fantasize about those object rather then doing their work. Distractions can also be other people. If a sibling is constantly bouncing up and down or asking questions, this can cause the homeworkee it become more frustrated at the task at hand.
3. Same time, same place – Keep homework time consistent. This allows the child to have clear expectations about when and how long the study period should be. If it becomes a habit, you will find that the child is less like to put up a fuss.
4. Be Creative – Everyone knows how boring homework can be! If your child is struggling to complete a task, try making it a competition, offering a reward or taking a different approach (i.e. instead of writing words on paper, use window markers and write it on a window).
5. Be aware of differences between sexes – This one shocked me but makes sense when you think about the differences between boys and girls. Girls can sit and do a task quietly by themselves. Boys, on the other hand, tend to always be in motion. One friend told me that the only way she got her son to study was to put him on a stationary bike. Along as he was doing something physically active, he was able to concentration on his homework.
I have yet to solve our homework problem! Just when we were getting into a routine and the tears were lessening, the holidays hit and homework went out the window! One of my New Year goals is to find a homework solution that works and strengthens the bond between Mother and Son instead of tearing us apart!