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How to Prevent Homework Battles with an Easy Fix

Parent_Child_Homework_400Do you struggle to keep your child focused on his homework? A few minor tweaks to his schedule could make all the difference. From Keep Calm and Parent On.

The battle over homework is the one I hear about most often from parents of school-aged children. It’s remarkable how a good schedule can make the battle virtually disappear. One six-year-old I worked with, Billy, had the most difficult time focusing on his homework. He would tackle it right after he got home from school, and his mum or dad would sit with him at the dining room table in an attempt to keep him focused—an attempt that rarely worked without an argument. Some simple schedule changes were all it took. Here’s what we did:

1. Right when he got home from school was not the right time for homework. This was a little boy who had lots of energy! He needed time and space to blow off steam, and so we scheduled outside playtime right after school.

2. He also needed a healthy snack. Though it’s easier for grown-ups to know that hunger distracts us, it’s not always easy for kids to make that association.

3. Billy needed a consistent place to do his work, a space that was well lit and quiet, and that he would learn to associate with focused work. We got him a desk and a lamp and put them in a quiet corner.

4. Billy needed an incentive to focus and get his work done quickly, without Mum and Dad having to stand prison-guard style next to his desk. We decided that TV time would follow immediately after homework time. If he finished his homework, he would get the full allotment of TV time. If he missed it, that was his choice. (Note that Mum and Dad did check his work to make sure he actually did it thoughtfully and did not just rush through it so he could watch TV.) The point is, it was on Billy to manage his time, and whether he got to watch TV or not was up to him.

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