If you ask me what the toughest part of parenting is, I would say it is making the kids do what they don’t want to do.
But when we also know that it’s something they need to do, it becomes every parent’s nagging problem.
Homework is one such thing.
If your child is intrinsically motivated to learn and do homework, you are lucky.
But for many parents, getting their child to do their homework is a struggle.
The key is in making kids internally motivated and making homework a habitual thing, so they know it is something they have to do.
Why do kids hate homework?
Many kids refuse to do homework because, after long hours at school, they simply don’t have the energy or interest to study again.
And kids are missing out on their free time which they could spend playing with their friends or engaging in the hobbies they like.
As they say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. It’s no wonder if children are unmotivated to do homework if they have a lot of workloads.
And as a parent, you can voice your concern with teachers if kids are bearing a lot of workloads. Especially if teachers don’t coordinate with each other on the homework given to kids, it can be troublesome for kids.
I know many schools do this. Hence I chose a school for my daughters where learning is made to happen more through fun and engaging activities and elementary kids are not given homework on most days.
Even if they get homework, it’s something that can be done quickly.
But I found that as kids get older, they find it hard to get to terms with doing homework regularly. And sometimes they are unmotivated also as they don’t see the value in doing homework.
Homework can be helpful for kids to reinforce what they learned at school. It also helps them to get further practice in subjects like math that always need more practice.
So homework is not all bad. It has its pros and cons. The problem is making kids understand the pros and also become interested in doing them promptly.
So here are some tips to help kids be motivated about their homework and make everyone’s lives easier.
TIPS TO ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO DO HOMEWORK
1. BUILD INTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN KIDS TO STUDY
Unless kids develop an interest in learning, not only homework but also attending school can become a tedious task.
Even if kids(and parents) hate homework, it’s a part of the educational system right now. So our focus should be on how we can make it as interesting as possible for kids.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Focus on the learning process and not on the rewards.
- Help them see how they become smarter when they learn new things and how they can understand the world around them more when they learn new things and become more self-dependent.
- Explain to them about the possible bad experiences they can have if they don’t gain a proper education. That being said, I don’t think a lack of higher education means they are failures in life. There are lots of people who drop out and then go on to become successful in the fields they choose. But even if you want to be more skilled and knowledgeable in any field of your liking, education will only help you.
- Help kids figure out (even elementary kids) what they want to become in life. The ideas at this age can change all the time, but help them understand the effort required to become what they want and how learning empowers them to achieve their goals.
Intrinsically motivated kids become genuinely interested in learning. So focusing too much on rewards may not always work if they don’t get the rewards all the time.
Instead, let them be motivated for the sense of accomplishment which may or may not show results instantly.
It is the proud feeling that he did what he aimed to do today. You can encourage him for his effort rather than the end result and focus more on what he was able to do when he tried.
This helps to grow their sense of accomplishment and it will reflect later in their interest to do things as well.
You can also build intrinsic motivation by talking about your experiences and how it has helped you to learn new things and have new experiences in life.
2. INCORPORATE FUN
Why should homework be always boring? If it’s possible, try to incorporate fun in homework sessions in the best possible way.
- Help them turn hard-to-memorize portions into songs
- Make them learn through activities to help them memorize faster and understand the concepts. You can browse online for ideas to teach different concepts through activities.
- Different kids learn in different ways. Try to appeal to their different senses by finding out appropriate activities that help them learn better.
- Homework buddy: Kids learn better when they are with their friends. Organize homework playdates with their friends if they live nearby. It will be a fun experience for them and also learning gets done without much fuss.
- Use learning apps: All screen time is not bad. If your child is struggling with any concept, try to find educational apps that help kids grasp the concept quicker. When learning is executed in a fun way, homework time can become less tedious too.
Here are some apps to get started with.
3. HELP THEM DEVELOP A ROUTINE
My daughter used to struggle with homework time before, especially last year when they were forced to learn through online classes.
But I helped her write a daily routine checklist where I asked her to create a schedule for herself. I let her decide the break times and the time during which she wanted to write her homework and study the notes.
Since I took her opinion into consideration, it became easier to get co-operation too.
The beauty of having a routine is that they know what is coming. And they get used to the idea of doing homework or studying every day at the same time.
So, as time goes on, there will be less frustration on their part.
You can also help them plan their study week by breaking subjects into easy portions. Kids usually do not know much homework they have and how to allot time to each subject to finish them on time.
They also do not have a sense of time, so they are carefree and don’t know how to finish work on time.
So help them break their study portions into manageable chunks and help write a to-do list based on it. And also teach them how to set up deadlines to make sure they get it done on time.
Also, make sure they get homework-free days when they can just relax and do all their favorite activities.
4. UNDERSTAND THEIR STRONG AND WEAK AREAS
Talk with your child and try to sit with them (not the entire session) and try to understand which subjects they are good at and which ones they need more help with.
When creating a schedule, you can develop a routine by focusing more time on harder subjects.
5. SET UP A HOMEWORK FRIENDLY AREA AT HOME
To get into the routine easily, and to be able to do their work with more focus, set them up a homework-friendly area.
This study station should have all the necessary supplies needed for them to do homework peacefully in order to avoid running around during study time to look for things and waste time.
This also helps them to be organized with studying and get into study mode easily. Encourage them to clean their desk daily and keep it uncluttered so that they can focus on their studies properly.
Keep this area technology-free and away from the noise so that kids do not get distracted by noises coming from other family members.
Also, make sure to set up different spaces according to the number of kids you have so as to avoid sibling squabbles.
If you have space constraints, try to set up different time schedules for kids to do their homework.
6. HELP THEM FOCUS ON STUDYING
Many kids have trouble sitting in one area for long hours. The longer they have to do work, they get tired and there is more resistance to finishing the work.
The Pomodoro technique is a great technique to teach kids. It requires you to set a timer for 25 mins and then take a short break for 10 minutes. This can be repeated 3 more times and then take a longer break of 15 minutes.
Ask kids to stay focused when the timer is running and if they have any distracting thoughts or impulsive ideas to do something else, keep a notepad and pen ready beside them to note down the distractive thoughts so that they don’t forget them later.
Another thing to note is that everyone else at home should try to cooperate with their study hours by not turning on music or playing TV shows which will make them distracted.
You can also take your work or other administrative tasks and turn them into work-study hours by sitting with them. Everyone can work on their job independently by not distracting others.
This also helps to motivate kids to do their work as they have company.
7. DON’T BE TOO INVOLVED
Some parents tend to be worried about their kids’ homework more than the kids. Stop hovering around the kids nagging and bribing them.
In other words, stop being a helicopter parent. If we become too much involved or stressed about kids’ homework, they learn to rely on you to remind them of their responsibilities.
In order to raise independent kids who can take care of their stuff on their own, implement the tips said above.
Refrain from bribing and nagging.
Bribing kids for doing homework sends a wrong message. It takes away the intrinsic motivation to do things and succeed on their own.
Nagging prevents kids from doing things of their own will and they learn to procrastinate because they know you are going to be there to remind them of all the tasks.
So what to do when they are not willing to do homework on their own?
- Let them experience natural consequences
Instead of being a nagging parent, you can be an encourager and facilitator.
You can remind your kids of the consequences of not doing the homework and build expectations by telling them you will check their homework at a scheduled time.
A natural consequence would be to let them experience the consequence from their teacher. If they forget to turn in the homework on time or forget their books at school, you do not need to spend hours solving their math problems.
Instead, let them do it, or if they don’t let them experience the consequence at school.
A logical consequence would be to cut hours from their screen time and playtime because they are most probably getting away from doing homework doing these. Or any consequence related to the situation you experience.
- Never do your child’s homework or write notes for them
This is inviting trouble for yourself in the future.
Remind your kids that you are there for them to help, but they are the ones who would be writing and doing the homework.
They should know that they are the ones responsible for their work and they can never expect anyone else to do it on their behalf.
If they fail to do it they are the ones experiencing the consequences as well.
It is hard for parents to see kids struggle when they have a lot of workloads. When kids complain about studies or homework maintain a positive demeanor.
You can say “I get you and I know it’s hard”. But don’t go overboard by blaming teachers or the education system.
If you have complaints, you can discuss them privately with the concerned teachers. But blaming them in front of the kids can bring on a negative attitude in kids towards their teachers.
And with kids, establish clear expectations of how they are expected to do with studies. It may take a while to get them adjusted to the routine and develop time management skills, but once they get used to the idea, there will be less complaining.
Complaining and bickering about studies are normal. Just lend empathizing attention to them, do what you can to help by implementing the above tips, and leave the rest to them.