Every day, around 3pm, both mother and child wonder the same thing, “Is homework going to be a big battle today?”
Any parent who battles with their child over homework can tell you getting assignments done can cause a fight, lower self-esteem and cause a lot of crying and yelling.
Kids hate homework and will try anything to get out of it. Homework time can turn into a screaming match with threats and nasty comments being slung back and forth. Words like lazy, slowpoke, unfocused, and procrastinator can slip from a parent’s mouth, all in the name of trying to motivate a child to do his homework!
Unlocking the “I Can’t Do It” Chant
“Yes you can — get going right now.” Parents think saying that is the perfect mix of support and self-esteem building, sprinkled with a dash of motivation. But just saying that is rarely enough to get homework done without a battle.
To unlock the “I can’t chant,” look at the clues your child’s behavior sends. Does he take the speedy approach to getting homework done? Does she fidget or procrastinate? Or is he dreamy and spaced out? Once you see what’s behind his inability to focus, you can begin offering some of the options in this article to see what unlocks the “I can’t chant”.
Here are seven new ways to help kids get focused — and get their homework done.
1. Start with a Snack
Feeding the brain is a smart thing to do. Protein with a little carbs will do wonders to reinvigorate a child after a long day at school.
2. Get Large Muscles Moving
The school day is filled with sitting, listening, and following rules. When the kids get home they want and need to move their large muscles. Institute a new rule: the first 30 minutes after snack is to be spent doing aerobic exercise. No video or computer games. Exercise invigorates the brain, creates the ability to focus, releases the fidgety feelings, and moves a child from a dreamy state to a more focused state.
3. Change Homework Locations
Education expert Ann Dolin says new research has shown that changing homework locations can have a stimulating affect on a child. Instead of always making a child sit at the same desk in the same room, switch it up and see what happens. Spend a week allowing your child to do his homework in another room, then at the kitchen table, then on the floor with lap desk, or let him stand at a desk or table while he works. See what ends up producing more productivity.
4. Help Your Child Sit Still and Focus
Some kids crave movement. My son moved while he did everything. Did he have sensory issues? No; he was a physical and tactile learner. He needed to move and touch things in order to focus.
To help a child focus, give him a way to manage his need for sensory input by giving him a set of worry beads, Bucky Balls or a massage roll. This allows him to squeeze or roll an object in his hand, which shifts the brain from craving sensory stimulation to being able to concentrate.
5. Segment Homework Time
Homework can seem like an endless, dull chore. To help a child focus on the task at hand, break homework time into segments. Use a timer set for ten minutes. Tell your child he needs to remain really focused for the next ten minutes and get as much done as he can. When the timer goes off, he gets to decide if he wants to continue working or take a break. If he wants a five-minute break send him out to use his large muscles. He can run around the driveway five times or play basketball and when the timer goes off he needs to come in and finish homework.
6. Eliminate Sibling Distraction
Some kids create trouble during homework time because they can hear their siblings playing. To avoid that, create quiet time. Everyone in the house has to do quiet activities so no one disturbs anyone doing homework.
7. What to Say When Your Child Won’t Cooperate
If lack of cooperation creeps back in to the homework routine, ask your child this:
“Which way do you like doing homework — where you have some choices and no yelling, or the old way? If you like the new way, then you need to cooperate or you’ll be showing me you’re too young to do things this way and we’ll have to let you grow a bit before we try again.”
Proactive Parenting shares non-reactive ways to parent and correct children’s behavior. Sharon Silver is a parenting expert, mom of 2, author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding and The Authentic Parent Series.