Grade school homework is the bane of many a mom’s existence. With even kindergartners coming home with packets and having to study for spelling tests, making sure that homework gets done is just one more huge adult chore in many homes. This struggle is very common, and though every kid and every family is different, these are tried and true mom tricks to get kids to do their homework with a minimum of fuss.
Think Big Picture
Consider your child (or each child!) when looking for solutions. If you are confident their vision is not an issue, think about what the struggle is—does he struggle to start but then does OK? Does she seem to fight every problem or page? Is he actually hungry? Does she need more rest? Are you trying to put dinner on the table at the same time? Generally, the earlier the homework is done, the better for everyone, because homework will be done before they are exhausted.
Establish a Routine
Establish an after school routine—modify it as kids get older, or for your older grade schoolers. When the kids get home, give them a break from learning. A snack, playing with a pet, or just a timed break of 30 minutes or an hour. Try to avoid screen time. When the time or activity is up, homework time begins. This will become habit as kids know what to expect.
Make it Fun
Does your child get frustrated easily, and stay frustrated? Don’t get angry, rather try to help them relax by being silly. Talk out their problem in funny voices, sing, take a silly dance break. Or, have them read the problem to you in a funny voice. General silliness helps relieve the stress they are feeling.
Incentives don’t have to be expensive toys or activities. They can be simple—a special TV show in the evening, or a trip to a favorite park or pool on the weekend. Definitely talk with your child about what they are interested in working toward—it’s only an incentive if your child wants it!
After School Homework Club
Take the homework fight out of your home! Many schools have an after school homework club—it may be part of an aftercare program, or it may be a stand-alone activity. Homework clubs give kids the opportunity to do homework in a supportive environment, with friends and support staff. These programs remove mom-as-bad-guy from the homework struggle.
If your child already attends an after school program yet gets no homework done there, find out if homework club is an option over other enrichment classes—or find out if your child is playing rather than working during homework time.
Create a Study Group
No homework club at school, or it doesn’t work with your family’s schedule? Make your own! Invite over your child’s friends and let the kids do their homework together—they don’t need to be in the same class. Provide snacks, keep the TV off, give everyone table space to work, and you’ll be amazed what they get done. Similarly, if daily reading is your child’s issue, invite some friends and start a mother-daughter or mother-son book club; there are many online resources to help choose books and organize activities.
Add it to the Chore List
If your child has a daily chore list make “homework” another box to check. Homework is just one more things that needs doing—like setting the table or feeding the dog. And on days when they have no homework, the box gets checked off without doing any work!
Break it into Chunks
If your child has issues with finishing their work—or they drag it out for much longer than necessary— consider breaking it into chunks. You can use time (a developmentally appropriate amount, whether 5 or 20 minutes) or subject (spelling test, reading, math) , and then let your child play for a similar amount of time. This doesn’t work for all kids, but when it does, it’s a life changer!
Create or Reorganize the Homework Space
Sometimes kids fight their homework just because they can’t get settled with what they need. Does your child have a designated spot for homework? Does he or she have the supplies needed to complete their homework or are they constantly trying to find different items? Is your third grader still surrounded by kindergarten supplies? Or is your third grader overwhelmed by their kindergarten sibling’s supplies? Designate a space (or provide a caddy of supplies if homework is done on the kitchen table), and go through current supplies and make sure age-appropriate supplies are available. You may need to designate separate spots/times for different kids—or maybe your kids work better together.