Motivating your child to do homework

Many children, if given a choice, would never do their homework. A life without books and studying after hours would mean additional play time, more relaxation, and less stress. If your child resists doing her assignments, and you have ruled out any legitimate concerns such as a learning disability, these three ideas may help your youngster tackle even the biggest math problem, English paper, or history exam.

Provide structure

You can either set a specific hour that is dedicated exclusively to the task or give your child a window in which to work. Ideally, every student should devote at least an hour per night to studying. Try to encourage her to do school-related tasks before thinking about extracurricular activities. This helps her learn to prioritize and will establish a good work ethic she’ll carry with her throughout life. Also, identify a quiet place in the house where your child can work without interruptions. A private desk in the child’s room with good lighting, ample space, and shelves for books and computers will create a minimally distracting, work-friendly environment.

Review homework both before and after with your child. Talk with your child about her classes and familiarize yourself with the material on a basic level. As a supervisor, coach, and mentor, you have an important role in your child’s success as a student. This does not mean that you have to sit with your child as she does an assignment or even help her complete it, but it does mean that you make yourself available for questions, advice, and support. By taking an interest in your child’s school work, you validate her efforts. You could even set an example by doing adult tasks alongside your child, such as paying bills, balancing a checkbook, or reading the newspaper.

Make homework meaningful and rewarding. It is important for you as an authority figure to explain to your child why teachers give homework (because practice makes perfect) and why her compliance is crucial (it impacts her grades, serves as an indicator for teachers, instills a sense of responsibility, and creates a better learning environment for the entire class). Once your child understands these reasons, feedback in the form of small tokens of recognition allows you to acknowledge her performance and boost her confidence. A hug or verbal encouragement can outweigh and is preferable to material goods. However, if the object underscores education in some way (a new pencil set, a dictionary, or even a group work session with friends), it can be effective in compensating your child’s achievements without creating qui pro quo expectations.

When it comes to homework, education really does begin at home. In order for your child to understand the value of completing assignments, the reinforcement must come from parents first. If you instill in your children the benefits of good homework habits and keep the communication lines open with your child’s teachers, particularly those whose classes may pose a particular challenge, you create a strong network of learning that enables everyone involved.