One mom realized she was establishing a dangerous pattern by checking over her daughter’s math homework every night. One day she missed her daughter’s mistake and the teacher marked the answer as wrong. The daughter stormed home complaining "You made a mistake!" This mom quickly realized that checking over her homework needed to be her daughter’s responsibility not hers.
Increasing Homework Motivation by Making It a Game
Difficult tasks like homework become more engaging if they involve the attributes of a game:
- Focus on accomplishing tasks to win
- Time limit
Your kids can make homework more like a game by doing the following:
- Write down the homework tasks that need to be done.
- For each task, write down the time they think it will take.
- Set a timer for a task. If it’s accomplished before the timer goes off, score one point.
- Determine the prize for the points. It can be as simple as running outside and shooting 10 baskets or eating three strawberries.
- Check that item off and go to the next task.
By transforming homework into a game, they will have more fun doing it. They will also gain the important life skill of writing down what needs to get done and checking it off once it's done.
Getting Some Exercise Before Doing Homework
If your child is struggling to get started on a homework assignment, an exercise break might just be the answer. This is especially true if your child is feeling angry, frustrated or overwhelmed.
In their book, The Whole-Brain Child
, Siegel and Bryson explain why this works. "Research shows that when we change our physical state - through movement or relaxation - we change our emotional state. ... The next time your children need help calming down or regaining control, look for ways to get them moving.
They tell the story of a 10-year-old boy who successfully used this strategy when he was feeling extremely frustrated with all his homework. When his mom tried to coax him into getting up from underneath his beanbag chair and sitting at his desk, he decided to go for a run instead. The act of running as fast as he could for as long as he could helped him calm down. When he came back home, he was ready to have a snack and start on his homework.
Turning in Homework
One dad was frustrated by his son continually missing homework assignments. So he agreed to stop nagging his son about homework if his son would email his teachers weekly to check if he was missing any homework.
Although his son was embarrassed to have to email his teachers, he did it. This weekly email allowed any homework problems to become visible and helped his son greatly reduce his missing assignments.
Struggling Far More than Others
Is your child struggling in school year-after-year despite getting extra help? If so, there is probably a more fundamental obstacle that your child needs help in overcoming.
Experts are figuring out better ways to help these kids by addressing their underlying brain neurology. One of the thought leaders in this area is Barbara Arrowsmith Young who founded the Arrowsmith Program
. This program is based on neuroscience research and 30 years of experience demonstrating that it is possible for students to strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions through a program of specific cognitive exercises.
When your kids experience success in their homework, their internal motivation improves. Once they have the skills they need to get their homework done independently, your parenting job becomes much easier!