• Sitting down with my children while they are doing homework is a luxury I don’t have.  Maybe it’s for the better, but the fact is that while they are doing homework I am working/cooking/cleaning up/taking care of our pets or doing some other household chore.  Even when I can find the time to sit down at the table with them I’m outnumbered. So, I still can’t focus on one child’s work and assignments.

    I have realized that my lack of focus on their homework is actually a good thing.  This allows them to take responsibility for their own work, and find their own motivation to get it done.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to remind them to do their work sometimes, or that I don’t check their assignments, because I do.  But they have learned that their homework is theirs, not mine.  Here are some homework and general learning tips from my household:

    …we can either waste time complaining or get to it and try to make it fun. They see me doing my homework so they do theirs.

      • Have a Set Time – If they do homework as soon as they get home the ideas and concepts from school are still fresh in their minds.  After dinner they are tired and seem to lose their motivation.  I put easy, healthy snacks out for them to munch on while they work, but we have a ‘better to get it over with early’ mantra at our house.
      • Emphasize Education –I make sure that my children know that success is directly related to the amount of effort they put in.  And because actions speak louder than works I make sure they see me, giving 110% to my work projects, and reading for enjoyment at home. I keep busy while they are doing homework – this way the energy is productive during homework time and they see that we are all “taking care of business.”
      • Show Interest – I ask questions about what they’re studying and what subjects they like best. This allows them take pride in their work and gives them a sense of accomplishment when they are able to teach me something new – which happens more often than you’d think!
      • Applied Education – I find that if I show my kids the application of their studies to day-to-day life they have more energy for learning. Sometimes when we’re in the car I make up math questions in relation to how much change they should receive after buying ice cream or how to estimate the speed of cars on the road. This helps them understand that learning is practical and not just theoretical.
      • Remove Distractions – We make sure that the homework environment is conducive to learning and free from distractions. The television and cell phones are off and if I see the kids interfering with each other, I separate them.
      • Review Completed Assignment – This serves two purposes.  I get a chance to look over their homework and help them if corrections are needed. And knowing that I’m going to check their homework causes them to be a little more diligent.
      • Help them Organize – It’s great if they do their homework but what if they don’t turn it in? You’re laughing, but I’ve seen it with my own kids. So, I’ve helped them label their notebooks and have given them separate folders for each subject. Assignments are put away immediately and neatly to avoid shuffling through mounds of wrinkled papers in their backpacks when it’s time to hand in their work.
      • Cause and Effect – Natural consequences- one of the best lessons in life. If they don’t turn in their assignment, then they have to deal with the consequences. Both at school and at home. That’s just how it is in the real world and the sooner they learn this lesson the more successful they will be.  I don’t cover for them or try to save them from getting in trouble now because I don’t want them to get the idea that I will do that for the rest of their lives.
      • Give Praise – I can’t tell you what a difference this makes in our home. It’s automatic and easy to jump on the child who doesn’t turn in his/her assignment or fails a test. But somehow praise isn’t up there in the forefront of our minds. I have realized how important it is to give immediate verbal praise and reward responsible behavior. It’s just simple positive-reinforcement.

    What about kids who just aren’t self-motivated?  What we’ve done with our kids is to try to show them that we all have responsibilities.  Adults have the work of paying bills, making dinner, laundry, etc, which they might think is fun (like my six year old son does). I just let him know that one day he’ll be able to have “fun” like me, too, but in the meantime, he has his work and I have mine.  So we can either waste time complaining or get to it and try to make it fun.  They see me doing my homework so they do theirs. There is a saying, “How you make your bed dictates how comfortable you’re going to sleep,” which rings true here. I have learned to keep it simple by emphasizing three main points:

    It has to get done;

    The faster they get to it the sooner they’ll finish;

    And as long as they put in an honest effort I’ll be proud (though good grades wouldn’t hurt).