How to Actually Get Your Kids to Do Homework
The ABCs of turning C’s and B’s into A’s
Picture this: Stevie has a geography test on Friday (today is Tuesday). Stevie gets home from school. He knows about the test but it’s a beautiful day out so he kicks a ball around in the yard with a friend (or more realistically, sits on the couch and plays video games). Before Stevie knows it, it’s time for supper. Over spaghetti, Stevie’s mom asks him about school – Stevie tells her about the Geography test. She asks him about his plan to study and he tells her that he will start when he gets home from hockey practice, at about 9:00 pm. Fast forward. Stevie gets home from hockey, sits down on his bed, opens his laptop, opens a blank google doc, reads the first paragraph of the chapter in his textbook… and checks Facebook. Does this story sound familiar?
Let’s be real – while almost every kid I’ve ever taught, tutored, or mentored has wanted to do well in school, most of them need some help turning their good intentions into success. The world is distracting – Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, Netflix, extracurriculars – and we all fall victim. Finding the time to study for tests and to do schoolwork and assignments can often be a challenge, especially when most kids spend half of their time trying to get started. Help your kids get on track with these three simple strategies!
Schedule Time for Studying, and Stick to the Schedule!
A structured routine is key but finding strategies for following the routine, now that’s gold. In fact, according to renowned Toronto psychologist Dr. Stephen Springer, the key to school success is “setting a routine and following it and being efficient at what you do.”
What motivates you? Snacks? Coffee? A reward? If you said yes to all of the above, you are certainly not alone! Kids are just like smaller, cuter, more energetic versions of us, but they don’t have the same experience under their belts, so we have to help them develop routines that stick and rewards that motivate.
Hockey practices, playdates, dance classes, and swimming lessons all get scheduled. Time to do homework, study, and review shouldn’t be any different. Help your kids by choosing a certain daily time for homework (and let them be part of the decision making process). Some kids might prefer to do their homework and studying right after school while others might need a small break first. And then, reward them regularly for sticking with the homework routine! (Hint – letting your kids choose their reward is super-motivating!)
Create a Comfortable and Inviting Workspace
Before your kids can begin to study effectively, an inviting and motivational study space is a must. Research shows, “Spending more than two hours a night doing homework is linked to achieving better results in English, maths and science, according to a major study which has tracked the progress of 3,000 children over the past 15 years.”
The study, explained in The Guardian, concluded that it is time spent on homework and studying, particularly for high school students, that makes the difference. And if kids need to put in the time, who wouldn’t want to spend their study time in an supremely awesome space?
Think bean bag chairs, bright lights, a standing desk, great snacks, and room to spread out. Work spaces that are not the traditional desk and chair work for kids (and adults too) because they are comfortable and relaxed. In fact, I am having my most productive evening yet because I am sitting, writing this post, in my favourite workspace – an oversized chezlong with a fluffy blanket, view of the lake out the window, mug of piping hot jasmine tea in hand.
Involve your kids in the process and let them transform their study space into their own personal homework oasis.
Figure out the Best Ways to Study (which are different for each kid)
Can’t decide how to study? Many kids get really stuck on this part because they just aren’t sure which approaches will be best for them. Encourage your kids to try out different strategies and techniques like daily review (even if there isn’t any homework assigned), colour coding notes, flashcards, … Talking to them and showing them how you studied might help too.
The bottom line? Helping your kids figure out their best study strategies will mean less time spent getting started and more time spent studying effectively.
It’s all pretty simple: keep a regular study routine, create a great study space, and figure the best ways to study. Then, sit back and watch the transformation take place in your home!