With the beginning of a new school year comes the hope that “this year will be better”. If nothing else changes then any hope will be squashed. If your son or daughter puts up a lot of obstacles to getting their homework done here are a few time-tested strategies (ie: they worked for my kids!)
1) Make sure the reason your child is putting off their homework isn’t due to some bullying from kids or intimidation or abuse from adults at school. Make sure you have an open and honest dialogue with your kids. Give them a “safe space” to tell the truth, where there is a no judgement and no guilt zone so you as a parent can know what is going on with your child(ren).
2) Make sure they have a a sugar-free snack right after school. I bring one to school with me so my kids can eat in the car on the way home. Saves time for sure.
3) Set up a quiet homework zone somewhere in the house where you can supervise. The classic place is the kitchen table.
4) Set up a schedule so that an allotted amount of time that will be spent on each subject and include 5-15 minute “energy” breaks in-between. Work WITH your child to help determine how much time will be needed. For example, if your child has 15 math problems ask him if 30-45 mins will be adequate. Have the child go outside during the break, weather permitting. Shoot some hoops or just imaginative play. It’s FREE time so let the kid play freely.
5) Offer an incentive. No TV during the week until homework is done and no more than an hour at a time. If you have a teenager, then a financial incentive is appropriate. For kids 12 and under offer a movie at the end of the week or dinner out at the end of the month for getting their homework done. Find what motivates your child! Let kids “bank” their money for a big prize of their choice at the end of the month/semester. For teenagers, they can stay out longer at a friends’ house, or they can get the shirt they’ve been wanting, etc. Monitor the rewards so that they’re not too encompassing. Keep the rewards simple, attainable and something you can fulfill as well!
6) Be positive and encouraging. Don’t remind them of past mistakes. Everyone needs to move on, even if they are repeating past mistakes. Figure out what your kid is trying to say with their behavior. Brainstorm together. Punishing your child into having good study/homework habits NEVER works but only turns parents into ugly ogres and diminishes any self-esteem for the child. Use positive incentives and positive comments for the tiniest achievement!!! Smile when you talk to your child. Remember, baby steps, and over time you will see improvement.
7) While it’s tempting to want to help too much, never do your child’s homework. Remember, every thing about parenting is preparing your child to become a fully-functioning independent adult who we all want and need to help make the world a better place. If you enable your child, you are setting him up for failure. Let him/her own the responsibility, the rewards and consequences of their behavior, actions and thoughts. This is what builds kids confidence, builds resiliency and character!!!
8) If these suggestions do now produce results in three months, then it’s time to work with me to find the underlying obstacle that is blocking your child from reaching their potential.