How To Get Your Kids Excited About Homework

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One thing that kids will never ask for but definitely need is structure. Structure can come in many forms, but what it means with regard to not only getting your kids to complete their homework but to–gasp!–get excited about their homework is to establish a set of basic expectations or a routine. Structure helps children to not only feel safe and secure, but to also feel happy. And when your kids are happy–YOU are happy. Having happy kids also means that motivating them to do their homework becomes less of a chore and possibly even exciting.

Establishing a Homework Routine:

Agree on a time.

  • Talk with your kids about finding a time in the afternoon or evening that they can agree to sit down to do their homework.  Allowing your kids to help decide on the right time of day for doing homework means that they’ll feel more responsibility when it comes to actually doing so.  Giving your kids reasonable choices has been proven to be an effective motivational tool and one that leads to cooperation.

Make clear your expectations.

  • Kids are pretty good at finding the one loop hole in any agreement.  Try to make sure that your expectations about their set-aside homework time is clear.  Completing their homework likely means doing so to the best of their ability. Make sure that your child isn’t just going to fill in all the answers incorrectly just to say that it’s complete.

Consider a time limit.

  • Your time limit might have a minimum and/or maximum value, depending on the needs of your child.  If you have a child that yearns for “perfection” it may be helpful for you to help them pull in the reigns a bit and not spend their evening checking and re-checking.  Most parents, however, probably have a child who will be likely to try to test their luck and finish their homework as quickly as possible.  Depending on their age, consider establishing a minimum time limit.  If they finish their work early, you could suggest that they read a book or work on a creative and quiet activity instead for the remainder of the time.
For more on how to establish a homework schedule in your house, read our article: Scheduling for Success: Tips for Timely Homework

Provide Positive Reinforcement:

Now that you’ve found a routine that works in your house, make sure that you find a way to reinforce their good behavior.  This is where you can change a child’s response to homework from “blah” to real excitement.  By reinforcing a behavior that you appreciate, you ensure not only that they will repeat the behavior (in this case, homework), but that they will even start to look forward to it.


Determine your reward.

  • The word reward is often associated with some sort of prize or gift.  In this case, however, it just means that you need to think of an activity, privilege, or opportunity that your child enjoys. We’ve listed some examples of rewards in the form of fairly low key activities that you can try.

Reward Ideas:

  • Pick out a game to play together as a family after dinner
  • Play a favorite video or computer game
  • Play with a friend
  • Talk with a friend on the phone or computer
  • Watch favorite television show

Consider an intermittent bonus reward.

  • You can maximize your positive reinforcement efforts while also helping your child learn the importance of delayed gratification by offering a weekly or bi-weekly extra treat.  If your child successfully completes his/her homework on time everyday for a week, perhaps they earn a family outing for ice cream, getting to ask a friend to sleep over, or they get to pick out the movie you watch on Friday night.  To help keep track of weekly behavior, you can buy or make your own reward chart.

Need ideas? Check out some of our favorite chore/homework charts:


Boast about good behavior.

  • When your child is following the structure that you agreed upon (and any other general house rules), sing their praises!  Let them know how much you appreciate that they need not be prompted to do their homework or are able to start working without you having to ask twice.  Tell them how much you appreciate it when they work hard and try their best.  It’s easy to feel trapped by thinking that your kids respond only to tangible rewards, but truly, parental support and positivity is often much more powerful.

Want more homework tips and ideas? See our other articles on helping your child stay on track after school:

Homework Motivation
What to Expect from the Upper Elementary Years
Get Your Kids to do Chores and Enjoy It


Photo credit: Child Studying: amen clinics (www.amenclinics.com)(CC)

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Katherine

Katherine lives in Kansas City with her husband, toddler, and 3 furry children. When she is not at home with her daughter, she is finishing up her Ph.D. in psychology or working on one of her multiple half-finished art projects. She loves ceramics, crafts, fitness, paper mache, and pretending to learn French and Spanish.

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