Do your child’s homework assignments negatively affect peace within your walls? Most parents would answer that question with an emphatic ‘Yes’. After spending a good part of his day in school, your child, like most others, feels like he is being persecuted when asked to do his homework. From turning a deaf ear to your words to pleading and arguing, he tries every trick in his book to avoid doing his homework. And finally, when you are at your wits’ end and your temper explodes, he backs off and starts doing his homework. Relieved, you get back to what you’re doing, but only until the next day, when it starts all over again.
To help you reverse this trend and make your child do his homework without resorting to his usual ‘homework avoidance tricks’, here are a few tips.
1. Relabel homework
Your child may value homework more if he could see it as a means of excelling in studies and not as a task that needs to be done. So, it might be a good idea to replace the word ‘homework’ with the word ‘study’. Use words like study area, study time and study schedule to drive the idea home. This would also make him understand that homework is not just about completing assignments, but also about learning. This way, even on days when he has no homework, he will have plenty to study and revise, and do better than others in the class.
2. Set a routine
Human beings are creatures of habit. So, a fixed time and place for doing homework will help your little one flourish in academics. Homework time needs to be consistent: same time, same place every day. Discuss with your child and allow her to decide at what time and where in the house she would like to study. Once you’ve set the study time and study area, adhere to it every day. To help your child prepare mentally, announce homework time five minutes before it begins. Once she sits down to do homework, begin by going through her assignments for the day together. Help her prioritise and allot time for each assignment. Now, go back to what you were doing, and allow her to get on with her work. Not only will this teach your child how to plan her study schedule, but also encourage her to study independently.
3. Clear hurdles: Understand learning style
Every child is a unique personality and a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the best way forward. So, one of the most important things to do is to try and understand your child’s learning style, subject preferences and attention span. This would help you plan your child’s approach to his homework and maximise his learning potential. For example, you can ask him to learn the most difficult lessons first and then move on to what he feels comfortable with.
4. Make homework time fun
Making homework time fun can not only help learning but also deepen your bond with your child. So, get creative. Come up with some rewards for good work, put up inspirational posters, get some colourful stationery and so on to motivate and brighten up your child’s mood. Together with your child, set some homework goals for her to achieve and reward her when she realises it. Motivate her by saying how doing homework can help her excel in academics. You can also create a chart to award her stars, smileys, etc., to show her how well she is doing her homework.
5. Help: How to and how much
Every child needs help with his studies at home. To understand how to help your child and how much to help him with his homework, you first need to know what his homework for the day is. So, ask him about it. Sometimes, finding your child overloaded with homework may tempt you to pitch in to do a part of it to help him complete it quickly. But, before you do that, ask yourself if it’s the right thing to do. Don’t do his homework for him. For, his teacher would have explained to him how to do his homework. However, to get him started, pitch in with a few ideas, and ask a few questions to help him think deeper and recollect words or ideas he may have forgotten. Also, encourage him by reminding him how intelligent he is and complimenting his efforts.
Homework is an unescapable and bitter reality for most children. But, as a parent, it is your duty to make your child feel that homework isn’t a burden but a way to prepare for a better future. So, put on your thinking cap and come up with some more ideas to make homework fun and easy.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.