By: Emily Graham, Mighty Moms, guest blogger
Getting your kids to do their homework can sometimes feel like trying to move a mountain. This can be especially true if your child is struggling or uninterested in a subject. Encouraging them to put in the effort might become a battle — one you both are determined to win. Research shows that family involvement in homework can boost classroom success for school children of all ages. So, how can you make the process more painless — for you and your kids? These three tips are a great way to start.
Tip #1: Give them their own space
Motivate your child to focus on their homework by giving them a distraction-free work space. A more productive homework space will start with comfortable furniture. Comfortable doesn’t mean too relaxed, such as lounge chairs that could lull your child into a nap, but instead ergonomic chairs and desks that will help keep them upright and alert. If you’re short on space, consider a corner desk, which maximizes small areas yet still gives your child his or her own specific study area. If you’re adding a desk to a room that already serves another purpose, be sure to address noise. Your child may be able to concentrate better with quiet, white noise or soft music. You’ll also want to focus on lighting. Natural light is best, but not always available in every room and certainly not at all times. Finally, think about using a timer to give your kid pauses between assignments or for occasional stretch and snack breaks.
Parenting Strategy: Make sure there is room for you, too! If you plan on helping with homework, reviewing finished assignments or monitoring the process, you’ll need space to be close to the action.
Tip #2: Get off the lesson plan and get outside
Helping your kids understand biology, math, science and art doesn’t mean you have to stick strictly to their homework. Know what they are currently studying and them take them out into the world to experience those lessons first hand. For example, if your child is learning about photosynthesis, why not start a family project building a greenhouse? If they are studying geology and the earth’s crust, take them out on a hike—or even just in your backyard—to go rock hunting. Together you can identify them in the field or bring them home to classify. Kids internalize knowledge, finding it more fun and relevant, when they can get involved with it. Giving them opportunities to close the books will drive up their interest in certain subjects, even ones that they struggle to enjoy.
Parenting Strategy: Get the whole family involved and even friends. Have other students and their parents join you in these adventures to boost the social reward of participating in education.
Tip #3: Make time management and organization a lesson
Homework success is about balance. Kids need to learn to find balance among homework, chores, extracurricular activities, hanging out with friends and relaxing on their own. If you can get your children to develop these time management skills now, not only can their homework grades improve, but you’ll also have set them up for success when they need to create a work-life balance as an adult. You can use calendars, chalkboards or dry erase boards to help them organize their tasks visually. Kids these days are natural technology wizards so you can also use productivity apps on your phone or tablet, as well.
Parenting Strategy: Give then choice. If there is flexibility in what assignment to work on and when, allow your child some say in their workflow. If you allow for a 15-minute break, give them options of how to spend their time and let them decide, such as watching a show, playing a video game, going for a walk, talking or texting friends, checking social media or going outside to play. Try to encourage at least one technology break.
Homework—even for subjects students enjoy—is rarely an activity that kids get excited about. Knowing they have your support can help make the process more enjoyable. While your child shouldn’t expect you to hover or do the work for them, setting them up for success means being involved in a way that encourages them to do their best work.