How to enjoy homework time with your child

How to Enjoy Homework Time with Your Child

“I so hope my husband did the homework drill with the kids. Book club is my only night off,” lamented one of my friends. She continued sharing her greatest frustration. Every day after school the battle began. Fighting to get her children, of varying ages and grades from middle school to elementary, to do their homework. They complained, fought with each other and then finally settled at the kitchen table with mom. Learning was nothing more than a chore. They hated homework. They hated school. They hated the drudgery of having to do some school task every night. To ensure the homework did get done, my friend would sit at the table for hours, helping, answering questions, and sadly, being little more than a drill sergeant.

Does this sound familiar? It did in my home for awhile. I tried everything. Begged. Bribed. Fed them candy -M&M’s were my favorite. One M&M for each problem completed. Paid them. Traded them chores for homework. Anything. Everything. Nothing seemed to work.

So, how can we make homework time more enjoyable for children and parents? Try some of these simple ideas:

MBTI Learning Styles - A Practical Approach Cover
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  1. Create a space that is friendly and fun to be in. In my home, we had a homework basket as we didn’t have space to create a permanent place. We used the kitchen table, but we renamed it the study spot when homework was being done. In the basket, I included everything that they could possibly need. (I tried to think of every excuse they had given me for getting away during homework time -like pencil sharpener, eraser, crayons, etc.)
  2. Have your child create the task list. We always started with a task list created by my child. Of course, at the end was the reward of their choice. Sometimes it was video game time, snow ball fights, jumping on the trampoline and others. My favorite occurred when my son wrote, “Play break the egg with mom as the egg on the tramp.” I was thrilled he wanted to spend his reward time with mom which meant I was not the homework nagger.
  3. Display completed/graded homework which makes your student proud. I didn’t use anything complicated. Just a few magnets and the side of the refrigerator.
  4. Always make sure that your child has eaten. Nothing is more detrimental to homework time than low blood sugar! I kept healthy snacks on the table -nuts, grapes, apple slices.  Fridays, we splurged with chocolate!
  5. Move! Let your child exercise. Get them moving. Moving the body helps move the brain cells.
  6. Pay attention to their rhythm. Is their rhythm different than yours? I noted in my household that I wanted my children to get their homework completed at a precise time -as soon as they got home from school. But, that doesn’t always work. I had some children who wanted to get their homework done right away. One of them even started on the bus ride home! Others preferred in the evening.
  7. Recognize their learning style. We each learn in different ways. When my husband attended Purdue University, he would study with noise. He liked it. He had the TV going and it didn’t bother him if the family was making noise. I was the opposite. I could not stand the noise. I noticed that even at work, I preferred to have my door closed and no music in my office to do my tasks.
    • There are a lot of really good resources for discovering your child’s learning style. I prefer to use Howard Gardner who breaks styles into seven types:
      1. Musical
      2. Logical/Mathematical
      3. Intrapersonal
      4. Interpersonal
      5. Linguistic
      6. Spatial
      7. Kinesthetic
    • If you are unsure of your child’s learning style, be sure to ask their teacher for help in identifying it.
  8. Take a break. Don’t make your child sit for hours doing homework. It is only going to make for a grumpy student and a grumpy family.
  9. Use positive reinforcement. There’s a lot of truth in the old adage that you’ll attract more bees with honey than with vinegar!
  10. Join your child in homework time. Sit at the table with them. Write a letter. Read a book. Pay your bills. Whatever comes to mind, but be with the child. Just make sure that you aren’t playing games on your tablet or hanging out on Facebook and Pinterest. Your child will quickly point out that while they are working, you are playing!

What are some ways you’ve used?

By Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, a master’s in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. She has published several titles, including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson

Tracy Harrington-Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the mid-west with her husband. She loved storytelling and sharing her stories with her children. As they grew, she started writing her stories down for them. She is a teacher, having taught from elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education, masters in higher education and continued on to a PhD in curriculum design. Her husband, Kerry and Tracy breed miniature dachshunds and love to spend time with their growing family. She has published several books including Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Rachel's 8 and Securing Your Tent.