I hate homework. Your children hate homework. Their teachers hate marking their homework. We never seem to escape homework, but there is so much to learn, and not enough school hours to do it. So can we make it easier? More enjoyable? I think so. Here are a few ideas to make a child’s homework go smoother.
1. WHAT WOULD THEY RATHER BE DOING?
What are your children daydreaming about when they are supposed to be doing homework? Try to tailor the homework to incorporate parts of their favourite pastimes. If they love riding their bikes around the court, maybe use that as their maths homework. How many laps can you do in 1 minute? So, what was the average time/lap? Get creative; it really helps if they don’t realise they are doing homework. Do they like ballet class more than spelling? What was that spin you did during class? How do you spell that? What other moves did you learn? Can you spell them? The possibilities are endless.
2. REWARD AND ENCOURAGE
At least to start with, having rewards is a great way to get more homework done than would ordinarily get completed. If they have a tablet or electronic device that needs charging, put it next to them on charge while they are doing their homework. The more they study, the more it gets charged. You will be surprised how much more they will want to study. Or, every 30 minute block they study, a pom-pom is put into a jar. Once the jar is full, they get to suggest an activity to do. Don’t use money as the motivation, you don’t want to bribe them. They need to learn homework is another unpaid job we all have to do. If possible, studying should be done somewhere so that you can keep tabs on where they are up to. Once they progress through the tasks, you can easily give them a high 5 or a ‘well done’ as they go.
3. FOCUS ON THE SUBJECTS THEY STRUGGLE WITH
The child’s teacher will let you know where they are struggling the most. This is the subject that you need to focus on, at least to start with. Getting them better at what most likely is their least favourite subject will help with their confidence and eventually help with all their studies. Spend an extra 15 minutes on this subject, find their weaknesses and build them up to where they should be. Don’t get frustrated at them, and don’t rush them into catching up. They are struggling because they don’t understand or don’t think the subject is relevant to them. Maths is a perfect example of a subject they think they won’t need in real life. Make a connection with maths, or any other subject, to your life. Tell them things like ‘You use maths every day, when you buy something and get change’, or find something more relevant to you.
4. BUILD THEIR CONFIDENCE
If they are not doing their homework, it could be from a lack of confidence. Spend some time doing the tasks with them and guide them through any issues that they are having. It may take a while to build their confidence again but it’s a very important part of learning, so persevere. Sometimes you feel like you are doing just as much homework as them which is not easy when you have more than one child. The key is to build them up enough to be able to do their own homework. Once you are through the hard work of establishing a routine, homework becomes a good habit rather than a chore.
5. KEEP IT FUN AND DISGUISE IT
Homework doesn’t have to be a rigid set of tasks to do; you can teach them things anytime. Counting red cars on the way home from school is teaching them math skills; ask them to work how many that would make after a week. Counting the wheels on a truck on one side and multiplying it by 2 to get the total amount of wheels is another fun maths game. I like to name a letter and see how many words they can come up with; a fun way to learn how to spell. There are so many ways to have fun and for them to learn at the same time, so think up as many ways as you can and don’t forget to keep it interesting.