Your kids just spent all day at school. And now you’re asking them to do what? Homework? Hey, that’s kind of like having school at home. After an entire day of paper, pencils, and books, it’s entirely possible that your child will resist (and that’s putting it politely) getting down to business in the after-school hours. Don’t stress out. Whether your child has to study a vocab list, do a few zillion math equations or finish a few extra assignments, we’re sharing eight tips that can magically transform homework from a super-struggle to some serious fun! Scroll down to see them all.
photo: GSCSNJ via Flickr
1. Work Together
Why not be hands off when it comes to your kid’s homework, while still working beside one another? Return emails, answer your co-worker’s texts or work on the PTA fundraiser, modeling focused work to your child as the two of you spend QT together. If you think this seems like you’re not paying attention to your child or you’re slacking when it comes to parenting—it’s not and you aren’t. Instead, you’re creating a shared workspace where the two of you can get business done—together.
2. Get Creative
Sitting like a statue and calculating problem after problem on a math worksheet isn’t exactly exciting, so consider turning a study session into an all out artsy adventure! As your kid reads a chapter from the assigned text, use the opportunity as a chance to put on a play. If acting isn’t what your little learner is all about, paint out math problems, sculpt letters or turn American history into a song.
Other ideas (perfect for older kiddos) include more sophisticated setups, such as creating a series of paintings that explain a text the child is trying to interpret or interpreting a poem by using their own musical notes. The kinder set can get back to basics and finger paint letters, make clay characters from a story or bang on pots and pans to learn about patterns or counting.
3. Make It a Group Effort
Start your own study group. Have your kiddo invite classmates to read, write and do math equations together. If your student is old enough to handle organizing and delegating, take a step back and let your kid take on a leadership role. Younger kids may need more help—think of this as a mini-educational play date for them.
photo: Simply Southern Sunshine
4. Engage the Senses
There’s a reason those darned fidget spinners were suddenly in every kids’ little hands. While engaging your kids’ sense of touch, smell or sight might seem to be a distraction, it can actually help them to focus. Simply Southern Sunshine’s awesomely energizing “wake up” play dough recipe is perfect for keeping the kids awake as they play with shapes, letters and much, much more. You can also engage other senses: Stash a stress ball in the homework area to engage the sense of touch or play white noise to break the crazy-quiet that’s actually distracting to your child.
photo: Danny Piassick via Ellen Grasso & Sons, LLC
5. Design an Awesome Workspace
Take a page from some of the coolest places on Earth to work. Google, Apple and other tech giants all have fab workspaces for their employees. Why? To increase productivity. Create a communal workspace that all your kids (or all your family) can share instead of sending your little learners off to their room alone. Mix it up with a tall desk (by using a shelf) so your child can stand and work, or swap out desk chairs for a yoga ball or a twisty-turny stool. You can see all of our favorite workspace ideas by clicking here!
photo credit: A Beautiful Mess
6. Snack Smart
Let’s face it: A hungry child is an unfocused, unmotivated and unhappy child. Theme it up and create a snack menu that matches the subject at hand. Use letter cookie cutters to create word sandwiches or use fruit and veggie slices to create number shapes or equations. Or try a once in a while special treat, such as these pretzel pizza bites from A Beautiful Mess.
photo: WBEZ via Flickr
7. Office hours
Your child needs some homework help. Instead of hovering (no helicopters here) or taking over and writing your very own book report, set up office hours—just like your college professors did. Make the living room couch or the dining room table into your “office.” The kids can schedule a time to ask questions or can come to your “open hours.” This lets you help your child, without actually doing the work yourself
photo: Delightful Order
8. Fight Bored with a Board
If this board by Delightful Order did anymore, you’d have to start calling it Mom. Visual kids will get a kick out of seeing where they are in the week, posting important assignments, getting special encouraging messages (or silly jokes) from you, and crossing off of tasks as they’re completed. Post your kids’ A papers as inspiration to show them how doing their homework translates into school success.
What ideas do you have to add to our list? Tell us below!
— Erica Loop & Shannon Guyton
Featured photo: Carissa Rogers via Flickr
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en españolLos diez mejores consejos sobre los deberes escolares
Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.