NEWSFLASH! NOBODY LIKES HOMEWORK! I didn’t like it, my friends didn’t like it, my son doesn’t like it, his friend don’t like it. Heck, I would venture a guess that even the smartest kid in school really doesn’t like it down deep! But hey, that’s pretty normal and to be expected. Unfortunately, as we all know, it is a fact of life… and grade school… and middle school… and high school… and college! UUGGHH! So it is best to get kids used to doing their homework early so they develop good habits. Here is how to motivate your child to do homework.
As I write this, my son is doing his first real homework, of his first week of fourth grade… and I am sure he would rather be doing anything else. Well, with the possible exception of cleaning his room. With that in mind, let me pass along four simple tricks that make the work easier in our house. Or should I say, the act of your kid doing homework… not the homework itself. He still thinks spelling is hard, no matter what advice I give him!
How To Get Your Kid Doing Homework Without A Fuss
ONE – The reward system.
Sure, it could be called bribery but hey, it works! Every night that he get his work done on time, and done well, he gets a check mark on the kitchen chalk board. At the end of the week, the more checks, the bigger the reward for the weekend. It could be anything from pizza for dinner to a new video game. It is totally up to him and his effort.
TWO – Set a schedule.
It doesn’t matter when it is every evening but it needs to be consistent. Make a homework appointment. If the time is six then that’s when the work starts, every night, on time. After school, after dinner, after snack. It doesn’t matter, just set a routine and stick with it.
THREE – Give them a break.
You get breaks during the workday so give your child a break during their work as well. They get recess and lunch at school so let them have ten minutes in the middle of their homework to get up and stretch, have a drink, use the bathroom, whatever. Don’t expect them to sit for hours on end toiling away.
And speaking of hours on end…
FOUR – Set a time limit.
Yes, this one might be a little controversial but I do not expect, nor do I allow, my son to grind away at homework for two or three hours each night. I strongly feel that they should be getting the majority of their learning and work done at school and with their teachers. Luckily, I live in a school district that feels the same way. But even if you don’t, you can still control this area.
I just don’t think it helps a child, and his or her psyche, to spend hours a night doing homework – and there are many doctors and educators who share this opinion. It is called balance. It is also called effort. My son sits down, dives in, and works hard for an hour or so (if that’s what is needed) then at that point, if he has put in the effort, most of the work is done. But even if he isn’t fully finished, he is done for the night. It simply is not healthy to put unreal expectations on kids, especially at such a young age.
Think about it – the brain of an eight year old should not be stressed about three hours of math and science and reading and everything else each and every night. It’s just not healthy. And for that matter, neither should the brain of a 38 year old. Creating and teaching these unhealthy habits at an early age is exactly what leads to overworked adults with unrealistic expectations and no balance in life. I would rather have my son be well adjusted than feel the pressure to be perfect with every deadline that he faces. Life, and homework, are fluid and ever changing experiences – or at least they should be. The ability to adapt and take care of yourself mentally are awesome life skills to have!
Wow, that felt good to get off my chest! (haha) And remember, my opinions are just that – my own opinions! But if you have concerns about too much time spent on homework, and the impact it is having on your child, talk to their teachers, voice your concerns, and get involved!
What To Do When Your Child Refuses To Do Homework
Having a tough time getting your child to step up and get their homework done? This might be a different tactic to try when your child won’t do homework. It could be hugely successful.
My son has just started fourth grade and, while the homework is not exactly tough, it is definitely more intense and complex than it was in third grade. It seems that this is the year that school “gets serious” and the students start to really step up into the bigger picture of academia. My boy is smart and he is fully capable of doing the work. However, he isn’t doing the work!
After numerous emails and talks with his teachers, as well as numerous attempts at getting him to step up, the final straw (and wake up call) for me came yesterday when I received an email from school asking if I could come in for a conference to discuss his progress. We are only four weeks into fourth grade and already I have the dreaded “parent/teacher conference!” This is not a good thing.
I thought about this a lot and realized that the typical methods of motivating him are not working. Those methods were good but I realized I needed to take it to the next parenting level!
How To Get Kids To Do Homework
Taking away the Xbox or the iPad has had no effect. Canceling sleepovers and hang outs with friends has barely made an impact. Getting upset and frustrated at his lack of effort is useless and not really my style. No, there had to be a new approach. An approach that would speak to his smart, caring, “do the right thing” brain. And that is when it hit me.
When he got home from school yesterday, I told him about the upcoming conference. Told him about my talks with his mom and his teachers. And told him that there had to be some changes – and they had to start now. Then I told him that I was really troubled and upset that he had been disrespectful to his teachers.
Say what dad!?
He had a look on his face that said “I don’t know what you mean dad!” He had a look that screamed he was perplexed, confused, and upset. You see, I know that he likes his main teacher very much. He thinks she is cool – and she is. She has done mission work in Africa, has a great attitude with children, and treats them with kindness, humor, AND respect. I know that he wants her to think highly of him and that he respects her. That was my “secret weapon!”
As you know from reading of my previous work here on Family Focus Blog, respect is one of the the three cornerstones of my household. My son is taught to be respectful above everything else. So when I told him that he was being disrespectful to someone he liked, I got his attention.
Why Doing Homework Is Important
I told him that by not doing his part at school, and with his homework, that he was being disrespectful. I explained that his teachers show up everyday, they work hard to make a positive impact and difference in his life, they prepare his work, and then teach that work to the entire class for eight hours each and every day. They use their time, their money, their brain, and their heart to help him get better in school, and in life, and if he doesn’t do his part then he is basically telling (and showing) his teachers that he doesn’t like them and doesn’t appreciate their efforts. They make the effort so why does he think that he doesn’t need to do the same!?
That was a wake up call. At that moment, I could almost see the light bulb go off in his head. Thomas Edison would have been proud!
My son is sweet and caring above all else and he never wants to let anyone down or do the wrong thing when it comes to the people in his world. I remained calm and left the ball fully in his court to do the right thing. We proceeded to come up with a new weekly plan and then he proceeded to sit down at his desk and do THREE hours of homework! He caught up most of his back-logged agenda and made an effort to focus hard and be better.
Homework Shows Effort
He knows that I don’t expect perfection but I do expect an honest, sincere, daily effort to learn. That is all any parent can truly ask of their child.
He is working to earn back some daily “privileges” and we have a new after school routine that is not really what he would like but – he knows that if he does his part, he will be back to his normal routine in no time. He knows that if he approaches his work, and his teacher relationships, with respect above all else – life and school will be much, much easier!
It’s a new day today in fourth grade for the youngest Youngblood man, and I can proudly say that I think he will be just fine!
I hope a couple of these tidbits help you and your youngsters manage their homework just a tad bit better this year. Good luck!
Rob Youngblood is a Single Dad, Keynote Speaker, Emmy Award Winning TV Host, Communication Expert, Media Consultant, and Reality Coach. You can follow him on Twitter.