It’s been a long day. It’s hard to sit still, listen and focus for 5-6 hours when you are a kid. Then you come home and have 1-2 hours of homework to finish! Plus, mom is tired from work and home responsibilities. It’s a recipe for stress and frustration. But homework doesn’t have to be a nightly battle of the wills. Here’s a stress-free homework routine to take the pain out of nightly homework and get it done quickly.
Last week’s Top Ten list focused on keeping your sanity and a large part of keeping your sanity is having routines (you can the post read it here). But homework is a routine all by itself, these 10 tips will help you motivate your child with a homework routine that works and they will also help you keep your sanity.
10 Tips to Motivate Your Child for a Stress-free Nightly Homework Routine
1. Have a set place to complete homework every day
With elementary age children, you need a table (the dining room table works great) or a desk you can access and provide assistance when needed. Older children may use a desk in their room or a home office/school area, but may still need help or supervision to stay on task.
2. Limit distractions
Try not to work in a room with a TV, Xbox or other electronic devices. If you allow your child to work on their homework in their own room, be sure they don’t have an iTouch, iPad or other hand-held device to play with or homework may take all night. My son will hide the iTouch and start playing when I leave the room, this is one of the reasons I make all the children do their homework in a room where I can see them and help them stay focused.
3. Use incentives
If you complete your homework in 30 minutes, you can go outside and play with your friends, or if you don’t complete your homework you will not have time for … [insert favorite activity]. I also require that homework be completed before attending special activities on the weekend (birthday parties, picnics, etc…). If your child really wants to go, they will get their homework done and you will not be stressed when you get home because you have limited time to complete the work and a tired/cranky child.
You can also create nightly incentives. Like once you complete your homework, we can play your favorite game or you can have 30 minutes of free time for something you enjoy.
4. Homework stations are useful
A portable homework station is a place (a bucket, a carry box, a supply bag ) where you can place basic school/homework supplies like pencils, pens, erasers, glue, crayons, and scissors that you will likely need for homework keep your supplies organized. If you have everything in one place, you won’t waste time looking for missing items when they are needed.
5. Take a break after school
If you do homework right after school, allow your children a short break (30-45 minutes) to slow down from the day and share with you what happened during the day before starting homework. My children always need a snack after school too (but don’t allow them to spoil dinner).
6. Same time, same place every day
Help your child know what to expect. Complete homework at the same time every day. (Remember those routines.) We usually do homework after dinner at our house. My children know if they have homework to complete, we will sit down after dinner and finish it.
Also, before you start working on homework, review all the assignments and set a goal time to finish homework each night. For us, if we started at 7:00 pm, I would time to be done by 8:00 pm or 8:30 pm.
7. Focus on one child at a time
I have 3 children. All 3 have homework this year. I find that working with one child at a time takes less time than trying to have all 3 of them sit down and work together. Working with one child at a time, also allows you to focus and provide your full attention to that one child.
Of course, if one child has independent assignments, they can work quietly on those assignments until it’s their turn for you to work with them. But you can’t do reading out loud with 2 kids at the same time.
8. If you have a fidgety child (or one that just cannot sit still), have them focus and work on the assignment for 20-25 minutes (or an appropriate amount of time for their age) and allow a short break (3-5 minutes)
During the break, get the wiggles out. Do exercise, talk, take the dog outside a walk, be creative. After the break is over, get focused and back to work.
Using the focused work with a short break can make work go get some much faster because your child knows they only have to focus for 20-30 minutes until they have a break.
9. Do the hard and most challenging work first
Most nights your child has already been in school all day. So they are already mentally and physically tired. Get the hardest, most challenging homework done first, and then finish the easier homework (i.e. copying spelling words). If you save the hardest to last, your child will be tired and it may take even longer to finish.
10. Sometimes, it’s better to finish in the morning
My oldest child will sometimes get behind on his homework (because I did not know he skipped assignments). Then he has to make them up. These corrections take time, he will delay as long as he can. I have found rather than staying up late, I just get him up early like 5:30 am or 6:00 am to finish his homework before school.
It’s interesting, but he can stay focused for longer in the morning, than at night. Probably because he hasn’t already spent the whole day at school trying to focus too.
These ideas make homework an organized process at our house. Once you get your kids motivated and into a nightly homework routine, it makes the process faster and easier to get done every night. Then everyone has more free time to relax.
How do you complete homework at your house? Do you have any additional ideas to help get homework done with no fussing?
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