The school year is in full swing and battles over homework are probably ramping up. All too often, battles over reading, writing, and arithmetic drive a wedge between parents and their kids. Many times, these ongoing conflicts give youngsters a distaste for learning and send parents to bed at night wondering, “What are we doing wrong with this kid?”
One of the most important goals of education is to instill the love of learning. As illuminated in a quotation attributed to the Greek philosopher Plutarch, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The following tips are dedicated to creating happier homes, where children are free to fall in love with learning and parents no longer dread homework hassles.
Tip #1: Each evening, set aside a time for family learning.
This is a time for your children to do their homework while you model the value of learning by enjoying a book. The best way to create a love of learning in your kids is to show them how much you enjoy it.
Tip #2: Avoid battles by offering choices.
Research shows children are more likely to do their homework if they are given many small choices. For example:
"Would you rather do your homework right after school or wait until four o’clock?”
"Are you going to do your homework in your room or at the kitchen table?”
“Are you going to do all of your homework right now or are you going to do half now and the rest after dinner?”
Tip #3: Help only when your child really wants it.
There is nothing that creates more homework battles than parents who “help” when help is not wanted. Try asking:
“Would you like some ideas about that, or would you like me to leave you alone?”
Your child’s desire to do it alone is a very healthy sign of independence and responsibility.
Tip #4: Spend most of your time noticing what they do well.
DO NOT focus on what your child does wrong! Allow your child to get help in those areas from their teachers. Successful parents spend 99% of their energy noticing what their kids do well. They say things like:
“Show me the very best letter you made today. You really worked hard on that!”
“Look at that math problem. You got it right!”
Tip #5: Help only if it’s enjoyable for both of you.
Too frequently, homework help turns into a homework battle. Smart parents back out of the helper role as soon as they sense conflict brewing. Try hugging your child and saying:
“I love you too much to help if it means we are going to argue. I know this is hard. Good luck.”
Tip #6: Help only if your child is doing most of the work.
Say the following to yourself over and over again:
“This is my child’s homework. Not mine!”
There is nothing more destructive than stealing the struggle of learning by doing too much for your child. Each time they achieve something difficult on their own, their self-esteem soars and they are better prepared for the real world.
We hope that these tips will not only help you and your kids avoid homework battles this school year, but that they will also kindle a lifelong love of learning in your kids! You can find more about instilling the love of learning in your kids in my book, From Bad Grades to a Great Life!, which is available as a paperback or streaming eBook.
Thanks for reading!