Child Education: How to Get Your Child to Do His Homework

by Dr. Noel Swanson.

Don’t expect your child to be enthusiastic about his homework; you weren’t either, when it was your turn. No child likes the idea of sitting down and doing class assignments at home, when he has had enough of them in school. It’s not surprising then that many children put up some kind of a fuss – ranging from gentle grumbling, to outright refusal.

While the parents and teachers are farsighted and insist on studying, you cannot expect such wisdom from a small child who lives in the moment and wants to make the best of it by having fun. Moreover, if the child finds the work difficult, then the whole exercise becomes all the more demoralizing and discouraging. No wonder, children would prefer to do anything other than homework.

So, you will have to do some homework on your part before you can get your child to do the classwork at home. You need to present it in such an interesting manner that it transforms the child’s way of thinking and outbalances all the negatives. However, don’t expect your child to be enthusiastic about it, but at least bring him to a point when he accepts the necessary evil and thinks it is better to get it done and be finished with it than to go on lingering on the unsavory prospect of it.

How do you achieve that? Here are some suggestions:

1. Don’t fight with your child; it doesn’t help at all, but can make matters worse. Think of innovative ways of getting it done. For instance, you can modify your home environment and routines in such a manner that encourage good study habits. Always think positive, and give more rewards than punishments.

2. If your child finds it difficult to complete the daily assignments given, check with the school about how much homework is expected and how long it should take. In case of genuine difficulty, consult the teacher and follow the instructions. As a rule your child should not be spending more than an hour on homework. More than that would be drudgery and difficult to do after a full day at school.

3. If you can create a place that is conducive to working, it will help to make a routine. In any case, it is not easy to get homework done if you have to do it on your lap while everyone else is watching TV. Ideally you should have a study table in the child’s room where he can sit comfortably and concentrate on his work. But, if that is not possible, you can clear a space on the kitchen table by removing all distractions and interruptions.

4. Your child will need some help and support. But, don’t start doing the homework. Help by way of getting him started, or to find the books or websites that will help. Teach them to find the relevant material. You can help him with spellings or work through a math problem with him. Most importantly, stay calm! You may find the problem simple but it may not be so simple for your child. Give him time to learn things.

5. Be generous with praise and encouragement. Express delight at every step; don’t wait till the end to say a good word. Your first goal is to get the homework done; you can think of quality later on. In fact, leave the content part of it to the teacher to correct and improve. If you have supported the homework effort, you have inculcated diligence and persistence. However, in the beginning you may have to help with spelling and punctuation mistakes.

6. If necessary, set up a reward chart that explicitly rewards homework completion by means of extra privileges, such as TV, or family treats or activities. Again, focus first on rewarding the regular completion of work. Later on you can reward higher grades. Setting up a regular schedule is often helpful.

7. If there is a specific subject that is causing problems, do something about it. See the teacher and try to find a way to turn this into a successful experience for your child.

8. You can help your child break up long-term projects into smaller units so that he feels encouraged after completing each unit. This will help him learn to organize and plan ahead.

9. If you don’t have so much time, you may find out about a homework club. Many schools offer to supervise homework after school. Many children like doing their homework with their friends under the guidance of the teacher rather than at home with other family members, TV, meals and all the other distractions.

10. Above all, focus on helping your child to experience success. Failure breeds discouragement which leads to giving up. Success, on the other hand, is motivating and encourages more attempts. Do whatever you can to make the homework experience a success – either in itself, or by means of the rewards that it earns.

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