by Stephanie Foster
As the school year takes off, the homework battle begins anew for many parents. Kids don't always want to spend hours on homework when they get out of school, when there are friends to see, games to play and shows to watch.
For many parents, this is a nightly battle. They have to check to be sure that the homework is done every night, or even just about have to stand over their child to make sure the work gets done. It's hard on both parties.
Life gets much easier when you find ways to motivate your children to get their homework done. For many families, motivation works far better than punishment.
1. Set a regular homework time. This may need to be somewhat flexible to cope with outside activities, but should be as regular as possible. This time should be free from television and other distractions.
2. Consider a reward system. You can reward completion of homework within a given time, finishing homework without being reminded, or whatever suits your family. Talk over what would be a good reward, and change the rewards as the need for motivation changes.
3. Back up rewards. This is especially important if homework has been a problem. Successful completion gets a rewards; working too slowly or refusing to finish means the loss of a privilege.
4. Know how often to give rewards. Especially as your homework routine gets established, rewards should not need to be given daily. You can have your child work all week toward a reward on the weekend, for example.
5. Follow through. It doesn't matter how your child resists a new routine, you need to keep it up. Children know when they can talk their way out of something. If you can stick to the new routine, they will adopt it. A few days of battles over homework, even if the battles are severe, are better than month after month of battles over homework.
6. Be there for your child. Kids often have questions about their homework. While you want them to understand how to do the work, you can help them understand what the question is really asking or show them how to follow the examples to answer a problem. Doing all the work or even most of it limits how much your child is really learning.
Choosing the right reward can help. Extra TV time is fun for your child, as is extra video game time, but time spent as a family is the best reward. A family game night, trip to the park or museum, and so forth, make for great rewards that your child can build toward.
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