For many parents, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything, and the last thing they want to do is get into an argument with their kids about doing homework. Here are some tips that will keep the peace, improve parent/child relationships, and increase the quality of homework assignments.
Offer to read a novel or textbook along with your student. Agree on how much reading should be done daily, then take the time to discuss what interested each of you. You don’t need to set aside time and stop everything. Have a casual discussion during dinner, in the car, or while getting some chores done.
If your teenager complains that a class is boring, history, for example, buy a book with short, interesting, and humorous facts to catch their attention. It might be enough to encourage them to read more about an event that was presented in a way that textbooks never do. Just because the class is boring doesn’t mean you can’t spice it up outside of school.
Play educational computer games together. Have a competition for completing a geography puzzle map of European countries. Find games on the internet that will reinforce names, dates, and facts that are hard to remember. Trying to beat a previous score will encourage your child to repeat the information in a fun way. What is learned by using the most senses is what usually stays in the memory, so take advantage of those loud, colorful internet games. Knowing information before the teacher says to learn it can give your child confidence in his ability to do well.
Come up with fun facts as an example of learning for fun. If you tell your child that each king in a deck of cards was a famous king in history, you can have him guess who they were and then have a discussion about them or the kings who didn’t get chosen. Encourage your child to trade fun facts with you. While they are looking for something, they are bound to increase their knowledge without realizing it.
If your child is studying a foreign language, buy a travel size phrase book to encourage development in areas of real life like dating or dining out. Use the phrase book to ask your child simple questions about the time or where he’s going. Encourage use of the language at home, even if it’s a language you don’t know. Have him teach you a few words or phrases. Praise for any attempts at speaking will increase confidence and self-esteem. Practice is the most important part of learning a language. I bought my son a book of slang which he shared with his friends. They began using the slang as a joke, but their language skills improved because they were thinking of ways to use the slang in the daily lesson.
Arrange an outing that has something to do with a class that might be used for extra credit, or just to relate the class to real life. If your child is studying Japanese, take him to an area where Japanese is spoken near where you live. Go to a Japanese restaurant and have your child order in Japanese. Watch for a local Japanese cultural event where the whole family can get involved and support the child’s efforts in learning the language. If you can afford it, plan a vacation to Japan after your child has reached an agreed upon level of proficiency.
Sit down with your child to make a plan to tackle those projects that seem overwhelming. If you can help break an assignment down into manageable sections and get your kid started, that is usually all the help he will need to get it done. Procrastination is usually caused because the task is too big to start.
If your child walks away every time you mention homework or school, ask what you can do to keep that from happening. My son told me that he couldn’t stand it when I told him to get his homework done. He said he was more likely to do it if I didn’t even mention it. I stopped asking, even though I was nervous about not giving him a reminder, and found that he took the responsibility more seriously. The tension caused because of that one question was eliminated and we found new ways to discuss assignments that were much more productive.
No matter what age your child is, they will enjoy the attention and interest that you take in their classes. Try new approaches to asking if the homework has been finished. Many kids get defensive if you simply ask if their homework is done. They feel you are just checking up on them and don’t care if it was hard or boring. A more effective way to find out is asking about what they are discussing this week and if he finds it interesting. If you can add a short anecdote about the subject from your own school days, especially something funny, your child is more likely to open up and share what he’s doing in the class. It might take time to prove that you aren’t asking so that you can nag about grades, so keep showing interest, get involved in fun ways, and watch as the defenses fall.