Tired of arguing, nagging, struggling with your kids to get them to do homework? Are you discovering that bribing, threatening, and punishing don’t yield positive results? If so, this article is for you. Here you will find the three laws of homework along with eight homework tips that—if implemented in your home with consistency and an open heart—will reduce study time hassles significantly.
The First Law of Homework: Most children do not like to do homework.
Kids do not enjoy sitting and studying, at least not after having spent a long school day comprised mostly of sitting and studying. So give up your desire to have your child like it. Focus on getting him or her to do it.
The Second Law of Homework: You cannot make your child do it.
You cannot make your child learn. You cannot make your child hold a certain attitude. You cannot make your child move his or her pencil. While you cannot insist, you can assist. Concentrate on assisting by sending positive invitations. Invite and encourage your child using the ideas that follow.
The Third Law of Homework: It’s your child’s problem.
Your child’ s pencil has to move. His or her brain needs to engage. Your child’s bottom needs to be in the chair. It is your child’s report card that he or she brings home. Too many parents see homework as their own problem. So they create ultimatums, scream and shout, threaten, bribe, scold, and withhold privileges. Have you noticed that most of these tactics don’t work? The parent’s responsibility is to provide his or her child with an opportunity to do homework. The parent’s job is to provide structure, to create the system. They child’s job is to use the system.
Eliminate the word “homework” from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word “study.” Have “study” time instead of “homework” time. Have a “study” table instead of a “homework” table. This word change alone will go a long way toward eliminating the problem of your child saying “I don’t have any homework.” Study time is about studying, even if your child doesn’t have any homework. It’s amazing how much more homework kids have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.
Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. Let your child have some input on when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Kids thrive on structure even as they protest. It may take several seeks for the routine to become habit. Persist. By having a regular study time, you are demonstrating that you value education.
Keep the routine predicable and simple. One possibility includes a five-minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing your child’s current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying the backpack of books and supplies and then beginning.
Allow your child to make choices about homework related issues. He or she can choose to do study time before or after dinner or immediately after getting home. Or your child may choose to wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite your child to choose the kitchen table or a spot in his or her own room. One choice your child does not have is whether to study or not to study.
Help without over-functioning. Help only if your child asks for it. Do not do problems or assignments for your child. When your child says, “I can’t do it, “ say “Act as if you can.” Tell your child to pretend that he or she knows what to do and to see what happens. Then leave the immediate area, and let your child see if he or she can handle it from there. If your child keeps telling you he or she doesn’t know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking rather than telling.
“What do you get?”
“What parts do you understand?”
“Can you give me an example?”
“How could you find out?”
If you want a behavior, you have to teach a behavior. Disorganization is a problem for many school-age children. If you want your child to be organized, you have to invest the time to help your child learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach the system. Your child’s job is to use it. Yes, check occasionally to see if the system is being used, especially at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary.
If your child needs help with time management, teach him or her time management skills. Help your child learn what it means to prioritize according to the importance and due date of each task. Teach your child to create an agenda each time he or she sits down to study. Help your child experience the value of getting the most important things done first.
Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades or rewarding with a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short-term gains and does little to encourage children to develop a lifelong love of learning.
Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage. For example:
“You followed the directions exactly and finished in 15 minutes.”
“All your letters are right between the lines. I’ll bet your teacher won’t have any trouble reading this.”
“I see you got the study table all organized and ready to go early. Looks to me like initiative and responsibility hooked together.”
Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, etc. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time, your child will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won’t commit to it, don’t expect your child to do so.
Special Note: Tonight when your child is studying, begin on your homework assignment, which follows: Reread this article. Decide which parts of it you want to implement. Determine when you will begin. Put it in writing. Then congratulate yourself for getting your homework done.
by Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of “The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose” and “Couple Talk: How to Talk Your Way to a Great Relationship” (available from Personal Power Press at (toll-free) 877-360-1477). They also publish FREE email newsletters, one for parents and one for couples. Subscribe to one or both at
. Visit www.chickmoorman.com and www.thomashaller.com.
Call Crittenton Community Health and Education at 248-652-5269 for classes and information or visit www.crittenton.com/?id=103&SID=1