Don’t Make Homework a Battle


The topic of homework once came up with a friend who had a middle school-aged child. She often wore her not-so-subtle distaste for homework openly on her sleeve.

“Oh, just wait,” she grumbled. “Just you wait. When your babies grow up, it’ll drive you nuts. The teachers give so much homework every single day and sometimes I can’t even figure it out. Our son can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. Helping our son with his homework is the worst part of my day.”

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We can all debate the quantity given (and actual need for it), but homework has always been and always will be. It’s never going away, and that makes it a reality, and we have to learn how to deal with reality.

We can do that by helping our children succeed because as any teacher will tell you, they’re not the only ones responsible for educating our kids. We as parents are, too. Here are a few tips to help avoid daily homework from becoming a combative affair.

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Start somewhere. It may sound elementary, but the most important step is the first one – just crack open the book and get started. No runner can go anywhere without moving his legs first, so take that baby step and it’ll soon seem like a daily routine.

Incentivize. Everyone thinks bribery is a bad thing because it is – but creating a rewards program isn’t. Just like your friendly neighborhood supermarket, you too can create a playful Parent Rewards Program where kids can earn free after-school treats in exchange for completing homework assignments. Don’t write anything down because you don’t need another chart, just keep it in your head. The faster they work and stick to the program, the more they earn.

Start somewhere now. Procrastination is the deadly sin of homework. Don’t let your child play or watch TV first. Get the work done before anything else. In fact, I’ve always encouraged our kids to do what they can on the school bus ride home. It may not be the most ideal environment, but over time they will have mastered the skill of concentrating nearly anywhere. That skill could be useful later in life.

Fortress of solitude. If you’re at home, the best place is to find a quiet place. No one needs distracting music or TV nearby. Everyone encourages you to make reading nooks when your kids are little, so why not create your child’s own, special homework nook.

Keep it fun. Have them become someone else while working by encouraging dress up. This will help them get into character and transcend the everyday school student they portray every day. You could also have a friend come over and turn playdays into “learn days.” They could do 20 jumping jacks after every math problem completed. However you do it, just remember that your child has spent all day at school needs to unwind every bit as he/she needs to get the assignments done.

Don’t take it too seriously. I want our children to get the best grades possible and help catapult them into college with a full ride, then score a well-paying job and remain successes forever. But let’s not lose sight of actual learning and securing lifelong values. True, getting the work done is important, but we’ve all seen plenty of people at the top who don’t care about others and/or aren’t qualified to be there. There’s a fine line between seeing them complete the drills and being a drill sergeant.

Is homework a battle in your house? We'd love to hear your tips! 

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Don’t Make Homework a Battle

Tom Konecny is a dad of four children and husband to wife, Erika. Tom currently serves as a private consultant in writing, communications and marketing. In 2013, Tom founded Dad Marketing, a site dedicated to exploring the world of marketing to dads. He previously worked in sports marketing, served as an associate editor and writer for several publications, and directed an award-winning corporate marketing department. His first book, "DADLY Dollar$" will be published this summer, and he is c ... More

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