Getting kids to do homework at all can be difficult. Getting them to do it with a smile? I must be joking, right? Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve that work well (most of the time) and I thought I’d share them with you! Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.
Homework is a universal struggle for parents and children. There has been so much debate about the necessity of children having homework. I’m neither for nor against. I definitely know and see the importance of homework. There’s the benefits of both reviewing what was taught in school that day, and it’s a good way for parents to be involved in their child’s learning.
However, after a long school day, it can be exhausting on so many levels for a young child to have to open up their books again. If a child struggles in a certain area, while it is so beneficial to have them review and repeat at home, it can also be so frustrating to have to deal with that pesky math or difficult parshah questions again.
I’ve both taught and tutuored in the past, and I am also a mother to two children that have homework nightly. Getting used to a homework schedule was a bit rough, for both them and myself, but we’ve fallen into a great routine that actually gets them eager to take out their homework folders.
10 ways to get homework done with a smile
1. They need food!
It’s been a long day of school and bus or car ride home. Your kids are HUNGRY. Depending on your kids’ ages, and the time they get home, you may opt to serve them supper right away. My children and I get home relatively early so I make sure to serve them a snack before even talking about homework.
Pick a snack that has both protein and carbs, and pair it with a drink. Don’t rush them through the snack. Just like adults after a long day of work, children need time to unwind and just be.
It’s best if your family settles into a daily after school routine. Many kids thrive on routine, and appreciate knowing exactly what will come next. Some children do very well with transition reminders- “We’re finishing our snack and doing homework in ten minutes.” “We’re saying Al HaMichya and doing homework in five minutes,” etc.
3. Location, location, location
Where your children do their homework is pretty important. A bright, comfortable area is ideal. Where you choose to have homework done will depend on your children’s ages and specific needs. A high school-er will likely need a desk and/or private space of their own. For younger children, or for kids that work well with background noise, the kitchen or dining room table is just fine. In nicer weather, try the patio for some fresh air!
4. Take breaks
A preschooler shouldn’t have more than fifteen minutes worth of homework but for older children, piles of homework can be quite overwhelming. Consider pacing them and taking breaks as necessary. Perhaps between subjects, or when a math problem is getting too sticky.
Dance breaks or any break with some movement to get the brain juices flowing again are best.
5. Limit screen time
I am not one to judge what or how anyone else chooses to allow their children watch! However, too much screen time can cause children to have sleeping issues and get distracted easily. Who wants to focus on a math problem when you’re itching to get back to your show? I try very hard to limit screen time on school days, but if I give in, it’s only after homework is done.
6. Be calm
Children can and will feed off your anxiety. It can be difficult as a mother to remain calm when your child is not focusing or is losing it over a hard subject. You may also be antsy and waiting to get back into the kitchen to finish cooking supper or get your toddler into the bath. You may even have anxiety yourself over the actual homework assignment or last minute science fair project!
However, the best thing you can do for your child is to remain present and calm and be available to help them. Easier said then done, I know. But your kid needs to know that you are there for them and that you are their priority in the moment. It will transform the way homework gets done!
7. Prepare a homework station
It can be very useful to keep a homework station around. This doesn’t have to be a big project or take up a lot of space. Even a turntable within easy reach is helpful. Keep extra supplies on hands, like pencils, erasers, white out and scissors.
Knowing that anything they might need is available for them will keep your children from getting flustered or stressed out.
I found this list really fun and inspiring for some fun homework station ideas.
This one is especially helpful for younger children just getting used to homework. Make charts! Reward your children for doing homework with stickers, small prizes or working toward a larger prize. It turns homework into a fun time and sets the tone for the whole year.
9. Change things up
This tip will not work for most people. However, it works for me and my son, and I figured I may as well add it in.
Know yourself and your child. Are you night people? Morning people? My son and I are both morning people and for a while, we had the available time in the morning to get homework done then. It was great! It took half the time when my son was alert and fresh from a full night’s sleep.
10. Consider a tutor
If your child is really struggling with homework, consider getting him or her a tutor. Tutors can be immensely helpful in both lessening the load for yourself, and helping your child do better with some new tricks up their sleeve.