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Okay, so you will be hard pressed to find a child who loves doing homework. So, it is expected that children might fuss a bit when it’s time to unzip that book bag and buckle down. Enter: you. The parent. As a parent, it’s up to you to set the right tone, provide the right support and create a positive atmosphere for homework time. Here’s how:
1. Put on your empathy hat.
First, step into your child’s shoes and feel what they feel for a moment. Children have been at school, under the scrutiny and rules of someone else, all day. Now that they’re home, homework, in their minds, deprives them of playing, socializing and just being–all the things that they have been waiting to do all day.
So, don’t fuss back. Don’t scold. Don’t slap. Tell your child that you understand homework isn’t what they want to do at the moment, but assure them that you are going to help them get it done well, quickly, and maybe even with a little fun thrown in. Then calmly follow the next steps….
Novel idea: What if you tried to make homework actually inspiring? Impossible, you say? Well, let’s unpack this idea a bit. If you freak out at your child and use coercion and/or monkey torture to force him to do his homework, you are starting a battle that, I promise, will likely become a daily struggle (not to mention a waste of perfectly good monkeys).
Try this easy tip instead: Write (or print) a different joke or riddle at your child’s homework place before they begin each day. For an array of fun kid-friendly jokes and riddles, check out: http://101kidz.com/jokes/. You can print some, cut them out, and leave them to be discovered by your child.
Starting homework time with a giggle sets a positive tone and creates associations that homework can actually be (gasp!) fun…and, dare we say, inspiring?
It’s yum-o time. Set out a fun snack that your children get to munch while they work. Something yummy that also doubles as good “brain food” is ideal: peanut butter on graham crackers, carrot sticks and ranch, tortilla chips and salsa, apples and caramel dip, crackers and cheese, a sandwich, trail mix, a bowl of cereal with milk.
Then, every once in a while, surprise them with a plate of cookies or a favorite “splurge” treat…something to make them feel rewarded for sitting down without fuss to do their homework. And, if you’re worried about peanut butter smudges on their papers, get over it. Completed homework that smells like ranch is better than pristine blank homework any day.
Stay tuned….we’ll be back soon with three more tips for surefire homework success in Part II of this Making Homework Fun series!
Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.