Homework is a hot debate these days. While some people claim that it is necessary, there is increasing evidence that excessive daily homework could have negative impacts on children’s health. For the time being, however, it is somewhat of an inevitability, which leads to an ongoing struggle for parents. Here is how to encourage your children to do their homework, without it turning into a daily argument.
Let Them Choose Their Environment
According to Parents.com, one of the best things you can do to help your kids with their homework is let them choose when and where to do it. Everyone works best in different ways, and it is a good idea to let your children develop these preferences from an early age. Let them choose what room they prefer to work in and at what time, and make them stick to that choice. This helps them create a habit they will rely on during their time at school.
… But Keep Distractions Away
The only rule you should implement is no multi-tasking, such as watching TV or listening to music. Explain to them that this only serves as a distraction, and just means that they have to work on their homework for longer. You need to teach them to focus on the task at hand before moving on to something else.
This is particularly important for them to pick up when they are young, since they are only going to have more distractions as they get older: half of teens say they watch TV or check social media while doing homework, and 60 percent are texting.
Be Available, Not Controlling
It can be tempting to hover while they do the work, telling them how they are doing it wrong and pushing them to focus when they get distracted. However, this isn’t very productive for either of you. According to The Atlantic, research has shown that helping your child with their homework doesn’t yield better academic results. Your child has to learn to work independently, and has to make mistakes - it’s the teacher’s job to correct them, not yours.
Instead of closely watching over homework time, just let your kid know you are available for help if they need it. When they have a question, they can come to you and you can work through a problem with them. Check on them often if they have a history of not doing their homework, but give them more space if they don’t tend to have an issue with it.
Bring In Rewards
One way to motivate the kids to get their homework done is to give them an incentive. Instead of offering a sugary treat as a reward, which can give skewed ideas about nutrition, offer up something fun that is actually good for them
For example, tell them that once their homework is done, you can do a fun outdoor activity as a family. You can go for a hike, do some bird watching, or go on a treasure hunt with an app like Geocaching. Look into outdoor activities that are particularly educational to encourage them to continue learning beyond their school work.
This works particularly well for weekends, motivating them to get the boring stuff out of the way so you can all enjoy your Sunday together. You can also offer a bigger reward, like a camping trip or another family adventure, if they do all their homework during the week.
If you want your child to do well at school, you need to make sure they are doing their homework. However, if you want to do this and also teach them responsibility, you need to give them some space and trust them, while remaining available to help and to spend some quality time with them afterward.