Homework Motivation

Ah, homework. It’s the bridge between home and school. Homework is a tool teachers use to reinforce what students learned during the day and to double check if a child is able to demonstrate an understanding of the skills learned in a lesson. As important as it is as an extension of the classroom, after a day of learning, playing and activity, it may be difficult to encourage your child to sit down and focus. How can you become the master of motivation? Do your homework, Mom!

Homework 101

As your student moves from Kindergarten to first then second grade and beyond (we know, let’s slow down), you will see an increase in the amount of homework he or she is bringing home, as well as more bulk and length to the assignments. Beginning a successful homework routine in your home early on will set the stage for the years of schooling to come. Get your assignment pad ready! Here’s how to get there:

Mom’s homework: get organized

Mom, as much as you want to encourage your child’s independence, you also don’t want to have to drive back to school to get materials needed for your child to do the homework. Teach your student organization skills. Most teachers will encourage (or require) students to have a “homework folder” where assignments and worksheets (if needed) are kept. Along with the classroom teacher, choose and/or support a method of organization for your student to help keep him or her on task.

Consider tummies & timing

Can you concentrate on an empty stomach? Squash those grumbles with a healthy snack. Think healthy, low sugar brain food to keep your student’s mind off food and on the books. Along those same lines, a tired (and likely crabby) child is much more difficult to motivate than an alert one. We understand that this may be difficult given kids’ hectic schedules, but strive to begin the homework process before your son or daughter starts to wind down for the night.

Provide guidance

Is your kid a self starter or does he or she need help to begin a task? Early on in the elementary school years, you will need to sit with your child and be sure that he or she understands what the homework actually is, and assist (if needed) as he or she works through it. Be sure to double check the for accuracy and help him or her make corrections if needed, even if your proud student insists that he or she can “do it all by myself.”

Create a homework haven

Make sure that your child has a comfortable space free of major distractions to do homework. While no one expects your home to be as quiet as a library, keep the noise low and commotion at a minimum. Keep the TV off, iPad put away, and hands off phones until the work is done. A ten minute assignment could easily take forty minutes with just a few diversions!

Consider a reward system

Some children are intrinsically motivated to get their schoolwork done, which means they are self-motivated. Others are extrinsically motivated, meaning an outside impetus has an influence on them, such as a reward. If you have an extrinsically motivated child, then homework time may be a fantastic opportunity for you to teach your child how to earn a reward and that work and effort pays off. Consider using a visual (think a sticker chart, or a glass jar with small added items inside) to represent homework done well, without procrastination, or correctly. All of those stickers or items in a glass jar added up double as math lesson! Way to go, mom; give yourself a sticker too!

Tips from a teacher!

Cheryl, an elementary education teacher from New Jersey, advises:

  • Establish a homework routine from day one. Set aside a specific time and place for your child to do his or her homework, and keep it consistent.
  • Homework is meant to reinforce concepts learned, and if your child is unable to do his or her homework independently, it means that he or she did not understand what was taught that day.
  • Sometimes, when parents try to help their child with homework, it turns into an all out screaming match that ends in tears (for both mommy and child). If you see that your child is struggling with homework, STOP and write a note to the teacher explaining that your child needs some extra assistance with the concept.

Photo Credit: Erin G.

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Erin

Erin, aka "Mommy" to a 5, 3 and 1 year old, is an adjunct professor, amateur photographer and sci-fi junkie, mostly in that order! She lives in northeast New Jersey with her much adored husband, kiddos and strange looking but loveable hairless cat and revels in baking pureed vegetables into muffins to trick her children into eating (and liking) them. You can find her capturing the beautiful moments of her life's chaos and calm on Instagram and Twitter.

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