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How to Get Your Child to Do Homework


How to Get Your Child to Do Homework

Rebecca Brown Wright

Your child sits slumped over the kitchen table, head in hands. "Come on," you prod. "Just pick up the pencil. Let's at least get started on your homework!" She turns to you and yells. Or cries. Or whimpers. Or she ignores you, and slouches down farther. 

Then in a flash, she's up. She needs a snack, her eraser isn't the one with the rainbow, she has to go to the bathroom, there's a pretty bird outside the window, or she just remembered her little brother stole her favorite stuffed animal and she has to get it back rightthisinstant.

It's exhausting, and you don't know whether it's the tears, the shouts, or the lack of focus that drive you the most crazy. Why can't she sit down, and just get going on her homework?

When you have a child who refuses to do homework, it can cause stress the whole family feels. Heck, the house itself probably feels the stress. Remember first, that you aren't alone. Plenty of parents are in your uncomfortable shoes. And then, try these suggestions on for size.

Let Go

First, detach yourself emotionally from the homework (as best you can). It's understandable that you want your child to get every answer right. It even makes sense that you might feel his poor job reflects poorly on you. But remember: it's your job to make sure the homework gets done. You can help when your child allows it; you can even check the work and ask him to fix mistakes, but don't make it your mission to make sure he gets everything right. You are not a bad parent if your child makes mistakes.

Remember, the teacher is on the lookout for mistakes, and will help your child learn from them.

Talk Before

Set up your homework expectations, but talk about them before homework time. At breakfast or on the weekend, remind your kids that you expect homework to be done by this time, be checked by that parent, be completed in this room, and anything else that is non-negotiable.

Help your children take ownership of homework by talking about the reasons why it's important. Explain that it may help to reinforce a concept and that it helps to get better grades in school. You can even create a homework agreement that your child approves of. Some kids will hold up their end of the bargain once they've signed a contract.

Make Sure Your Child Understands the Assignment

If you always get pushback when it's time to do homework, maybe your child isn't understanding what's required of him. Do a little sleuthing to see if that's the case. Look for clues: Can he breeze through his writing assignments, but math keeps tripping him up? Maybe it's time to get him a math tutor. 

Does she seem lost, no matter what subject she's studying? Try to find out the process of how homework is assigned in the classroom, and if she's getting all the details down. Have a talk with her teacher if it seems like nothing is helping. Ask how long the assignments should be taking, and ask the teacher for suggestions if your child is taking too long. 

Understand Your Child

What does your child need from you? Does she need you to stay close, or does she get anxious when you're near? Does he need basic positive encouragement, or would he do better if you took a more hands-on approach? 

Does she learn better visually or orally? Maybe you can step in and read instructions out loud, or help to draw an outline for how the homework should get done.

Does he need silence or background noise? Help him find the right setting for optimal brain function. 

Follow a Routine

Have you ever noticed that there's less pushback when you have a solid routine in place? Maybe it's taking off shoes right when your kids step in the door. Maybe it's clearing their place before they leave the kitchen after dinner. Maybe it's eating a full breakfast in the car on the way to school. Whatever it is, when you have a routine in place, your kids tend to just automatically do the thing they're supposed to do -- often without thinking.

Homework is different. If your child hates homework, they aren't going to gleefully skip off to complete it just because you're following a routine. But if you have a certain time of day that homework gets done (right after snack, right after 10 minutes of free play outside, right after dinner, etc.) and a certain place where it gets done each day (the kitchen table, the counter, the office...), there will be less resistance. We're not saying they won't come up with ways to weasel out of homework, but they will understand that the expectation is for homework to get done at that time and that place. 

Following a routine simply makes it so there's at least one battle you don't have to have. Remember: You can easily add homework time into your Brili routine.

Break Time

As adults, we don't like to plow through reports and spreadsheets without resting our eyes or standing up to do a few stretches. Allow your kids to take brief breaks too. A quick run around the house might be the burst of energy she needs to settle back down and get back to business.

Using Brili's Reward activity type (select the trophy icon where you'd normally pick a star value)  you can even build in 5- to 10-minute breaks in the homework activity so your child is reminded when to pause – and when to resume work.

Get Them Started

Sometimes, all we need is to get started. Guide your child through a math problem or two, and then step away. Help brainstorm ideas for a science project or essay, and then get back to fixing dinner. Sometimes all a child needs is to feel like they have a direction. If you provide that direction, they can take off independently.

Make Learning Fun and Positive

Cultivate a home where learning is something everyone enjoys. Homework can be full of pressure, and can cause dread before it even begins. When you aren't dealing with homework battles, buoy your child up by reminding that learning is a positive thing. Read, write, do puzzles, attend museums or talks, visit the library, study animal tracks and then look for them on hikes, study how to do a minor car repair and then do it, etc.

Kids – especially defiant ones who struggle with homework – need to be reminded that they're smart, and that they can enjoy learning. 

Use Technology

When technology is done right, it improves our lives. Brili is the ultimate system to help families with children stay on task and on time every day. Take nagging out of the equation. Add Brili instead. Enjoy fewer fights and less tension as your child takes charge of her homework routine.