Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2013

How To Get Homework Success

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

How To Get Homework SuccessOur kids have six hours of schooling, and then once home are expected to continue on with it in the form of homework. Be you a believer or not, homework it seems is here to stay and has been around for as long as schools have existed. While some of us see homework as an opportunity to take a peek at what our kids are up to in the classroom, for many they see it as a repetitive, no win, never ending battle.

Love it or hate it, no one can deny that homework allows us as parents to gain more insight into how our kids are coping with their school work. It also helps to set up good study habits, and can even raise self esteem as kids attempt learning without the eyes of their teacher. While all this sounds good, if we can’t get our kids happy to do homework, very little of these benefits are felt, as homework simply becomes shrouded with whining, dawdling, fidgeting and frustration for all involved. The best chance for a positive homework experience needs to be planned, not simply thrown together where we find ourselves squawking at our kids to get a move on.

Below you will find simple yet effective strategies to help combat the homework blues and get your kids on their way to a no fuss no dread homework.

What Time Should My Kids Do Homework?
Wouldn’t it be handy if someone told us the ideal time for homework is 6.25pm? Truth is there is no magic time for homework. With family lives all being so different, this is of course impossible. You can though for your child and family work out when the best time is by considering three things when choosing.

  • Make sure they have had a break when they get home from school. How long that is, that’s up to you.
  • Make sure they have had at least afternoon tea. Trying to concentrate when you’re hungry makes it so much more difficult.
  • Make sure you are not choosing a time when they are too tired. Kinder kids usually come home very tired not use to the busy schedule of school. Because of this I recommend not too long after afternoon tea.

While morning homework may be a better option for some families, beware that you can run out of time unlike of an evening. There is little room for dawdling or unforeseen events here.

How Much Input Should I have?
With kindergarten children you will need to do homework with them. Reading is a large part of kinder homework so they do need assistance. For year one and two kids, now having a little reading skill up their sleeve, they are now able to work a little more independently. You will though still need to be at hand for guidance, assistance and the all important encouragement and praise.

Sometimes we ask older siblings to do homework with our younger children. While this might be helpful, if it is not seen as positive for your child or the older sibling don’t do it. It is vital that homework is seen by your child in the best possible light. Remember how it felt when your parents were trying to teach you how to drive?

Set the Scene for Homework
Just like with other transitions such as packing away or leaving the house, kids are more agreeable if you have given them warnings that something is about to happen. This is the same for homework. Tell your kids a short time before that it is nearly homework time. While it may not cease the complaining, the warning helps them to get their mind set for the idea of doing homework. It also allows them time to wrap up whatever they were doing beforehand.

When you find yourself trying to concentrate, you know that the best environment to do this is one that is as quiet as possible. And while we may not be able to get our homes as quiet as the local library, there are certainly things we can do to assist concentration.

  • Both TV and any music should be off. Room should be well lit and wait for any visitors to leave.
  • The dining table can be a great place to do homework especially for younger children who may need regular assistance. By having the child in an area we are likely to be in makes for easier assistance. Sitting at the kitchen bench can also work well with kids that need lots of assistance, so even if you can’t focus your whole attention on homework due to other tasks needing to be done such as dinner, kids are close at hand for you to assist. I strongly recommend that if you can, sit next to your child for the duration of the homework. This gives them the best possible chance to complete the task. If you are up and down from the table, try to give them achievable tasks to have completed before you return. This breaks down the homework and gives the child a smaller focus.
  • Preferred tools make the work more enjoyable. Does your child like a particular pencil? Even adults have preferences as to what we like to write with. Kids are the same.
  • Good posture at a table of the right height will stop them from getting tired as quickly or fidgeting in their chair.
  • Younger siblings who don’t do homework are simply a distraction, so ensure they are kept busy themselves.
  • Siblings who also have homework, sit them at the dining table together. This helps your kids to know that homework is expected of everyone, and if we do it together, no-one is missing out on anything.
  • An egg timer can work well with dawdling children. Timers help to break down tasks and keep kids working. “See if you can have this section done by the time the timer runs out”. Timers can make homework a little more fun and help to keep dawdlers moving.

Rewards
One of my children aged seven detests homework. Being special needs, homework is tiring and difficult. To help him, I created a chart with 20 days on it. Each day he does no fuss homework he is able to cross off one of the days to get closer to that treat he is after. So far this has been working well with most days no fuss. For my other two children seven and six years, it’s simply enough for me to tell them they can watch TV once their homework is complete. Work out what makes your kids tick, what is it that gets that no fuss homework done. Once you find this thing, you should have a lot less homework battles. You won’t need to reward forever, it’s all about getting the routine going, and eventually your child will reap their own rewards. Think of it a little like toilet training. Sure you rewarded for wee in the toilet even if it was only claps and high fives, but it wasn’t forever. Well now it’s head down and completing homework that you can reward for to encourage homework to be second nature.

Your Homework Attitude Can Be Catching
You are highly influential. If you groan and moan when it’s homework time, expect them to do the same. Stay upbeat and positive. Give praise and encouragement. Acknowledge when something is tricky for them. Have oodles and oodles of patience and under no circumstances yell or get into a debate. If your child refuses to do the homework, simply tell them calmly what the consequences will be if they choose not to do it. You must point out how it will impact on them in the short term such as your created consequence or their teachers reaction.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Mummy Weekly Copyright 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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