How do I get my child to do their homework?
Real Mom Problem
“My son has homework every day and has trouble staying on task to get it done. It takes from the time he gets home from school until bedtime to get it done and he still doesn't have it done sometimes. We have tried everything -- I am at my wits' end!”
- 1. Get your child into a homework routine with a consistent time and place to do homework each day
- 2. Be available to answer questions, but try to let your child find all the answers on her own
- 3. Set time limits and incorporate breaks if your child has trouble staying focused
- 4. Remind your child that homework is meant to help him understand and practice the concepts that he's learning in school
- 5. Consider tutoring or extra help with the teacher if you feel it's necessary
Real Mom Solutions
See how these moms help their kids reap the benefits of homework.
Help Them Focus & Find a Routine
Getting a snack and having just a little downtime before doing homework really helps. I also believe doing homework before dinner is sound. Making the place they do it and the time they do it a routine, plus enforcing it, is key here.
My son focuses and gets homework done as soon as he can so he can go do other stuff. My daughter can't focus but if I'm there she asks questions the whole time. For her, we finally set a time limit and left her alone. She is not allowed to ask for help until her time is up and she has tried every part of the homework. So if she doesn't understand a question, she skips it and goes back. This is also a good test taking skill to have, so we encourage her to do it. We also have a little work station set up in the dining room, and they know when they get home they have a snack then do their homework right away. Then they can go outside or play or whatever. The routine has helped a lot. Also, when they don't bring homework home, they still have the routine and either study spelling words, write sentences or definitions, study math facts, or do workbook pages from workbooks we bought them. Just to keep the same routine every day.
Get your son into a homework routine that works, whether it's getting his homework done as soon as he walks in the door, or taking a break, having a snack to wind down for about 30 minutes, and then doing the work. We did a snack first before we would have her do the homework.
We have a set time for homework. My daughter comes home, has a snack, and then it's straight to homework. She knows she doesn't get to do any other activities until it's done. We also have a specific place, away from all distractions where homework is done (the dining room table). She's pretty good about doing her homework on her own. Although I do hang around the area to make sure it's being done neatly and properly. I also encourage her to ask questions if she's unsure of her answer or what to do. That's how she learns!
With my first two the rule was always "homework happens before anything else." They never ever fought me on it. Then my third child started school and I wanted to rip my hair out! She fought me tooth and nail. Finally, I tried allowing her to come home and play for an hour. It has worked well for her. She needs time to be a kid after sitting in school all day. Getting her involved in gymnastics has helped as well. She has tons of energy to burn and just couldn't focus after having to focus all day in school. No matter what, you have to be consistent and stay firm.
In first and second grade, I pretty much had to be there with my son when he did his homework in order to keep him on track. He didn't really give me a hard time about it. He knew he couldn't go out to play with his friends until he was done. The hard part was just trying to keep him on track and answer all his questions. It wasn't till around fourth grade that he finally started doing it without my having to always hound him about it.
Consider Helpful Homework Aids
I don't help my kids with their homework. It's not that I don't care; it's that education is very important to me and they need to learn to do these things on their own. They aren't given anything for homework that's not taught in class, so as long as they are paying attention in class and taking notes of things they need to remember, homework shouldn't be a problem. And if they just don't get what's taught in class, my kids all know that they are to go to the teacher after class and set up a time to go over it. All of the teachers at our school stay two hours three times a week for extra help, so all they have to do is walk in.
With the internet there should be no reason you can't help your kids with homework. Math might be difficult because it's one thing to read about math problems and another to be shown how to do them. Math XL is an awesome math website, complete with videos and step-by-step instructions. It's not free, but I think you can get a free trial.
We explain that the teacher doesn't give homework she doesn't think the kids can do, so if my daughter really doesn't understand it, we tell her we will write a note to the teacher (or she will have to talk to the teacher) saying that she doesn't understand it.
I would get a tutor if my child was struggling with homework. The current methods of teaching math are very different from how I learned. My son (second grade) sometimes brings home stuff and I don't understand the directions. I don't know if it will get better or worse with time, but finding a tutor who is more in line with the current teaching methods and curriculum seems like it would be the best thing.
Consider Rewards or Consequences
Try a prize for doing homework. We use play money and a prize box. Every time they do something good, like get a good grade, they get some money. They then use the money that they earned to buy something out of the prize box. It helps them learn about money and gets them to work for something. I have four kids and so far it has worked.
My daughter was like fighting a demon in first and second grade over homework. She got better (although has had a few meltdowns) over homework. We tried everything: rewards, games, punishment, and nothing worked. I hated her homework more than she did! The only thing that got things done: I ignored her. No play, TV, computer -- nothing -- until homework was done. If she didn't have it done by dinner, she got a five-minute shower and then straight to bed. Consistency was the key. I never changed, never wavered, and things improved.
If your son is just stalling and playing around, make sure there are consequences for doing so. Our oldest son did the same thing in fourth grade, even on occasion refusing to do it. I just let him go to school the next day with it not done and face the consequences there as well as being in trouble at home. On the days when he refused to do it, I sent a note to his teacher saying that was the case. Now, he does have ADD, so some of it had to do with his inability to focus. Once we finally put him on medicine after fifth grade, things got better. He still hates homework, but he does it without a big argument and without the stalling/playing around.
Try using a rewards chart for homework. If your son does his homework without yelling, he gets a sticker for that day. After five stickers or one week, he gets an extra special treat, such as an extra 15 minutes of TV or having a playdate.