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Tips for parents on 'getting the homework done'

One of the many concerns of parents is getting homework done in a timely manner. Just as you are wrapping up summer and getting supplies purchased for school, this deep worry tends to settle into your mind. How will they do this year? Is there anything more I can do to help them? Yes!

1. Set up a place, quiet and more or less secluded (but within your ever-watchful supervision) where your children can do their homework. I know that one family has a quiet hour after school when the kitchen table is the "homework" table, but the rules include no talking, no face-making and no silly noises. In other words, there is a serious attempt to keep them focused on their work.

When the homework is ready to be checked, this mother quietly talks to the child in the same room, but in a far corner, about what has been done right and wrong. After making corrections, the child is free to leave the "homework" table and pursue other, more attractive activities.

I know other mothers who have found that a personal desk in the child's bedroom is very helpful for homework. With a small overhead book shelf, personal office supplies, and a good light, homework time also becomes a time to be alone, to think, to wonder and to dream (which sometimes isn't exactly the idea). But if children are left in their rooms until the homework is done and can't do anything until then, they soon get to the task.

2. Have a regular time for homework. I know some mothers who let their children play with friends for an hour after school lets out and then the family gathers back home for homework. This tends to get out the wiggles, refresh their minds, and make them more likely to get it done expediently.

Other mothers find that it is better to feed their children a snack, read to them for a short time, and then pull out the books and get the homework done before any friends are allowed into the house or the children are allowed to go out and play.

3. Motivate with before . . . Children will do little, if anything, without some motivation to keep their energy up through the process of homework. It is helpful to always remind them of something wonderful, lovely, exciting or interesting that will follow. "We will watch a short video when you are done!" "I will serve an extra piece of cake to everyone who gets their homework done and corrected before Dad gets home!" "You may have John over when your homework is done!" You get the pattern.

Some children need more supervision and encouragement than others. I know one mother who had a child that struggled with reading way past the normal time for children to "get it." However, she patiently worked each day with the child, helping her and motivating her with attention and encouragement. It took longer to get this part of homework done than most of her other children, but once this child understood reading, she turned out to be the best and fastest one of them all. She hit her stride and off she went to become more independent, self-motivating, and creative than her mother could have ever expected.

So set a time, set a place, get creative with motivators, and be patient with the "slower" one. Soon homework routines will become a natural part of your children's days, and they will understand that you mean business when you say it is "homework" time. They will be all the better students for your diligence.

Good luck this next school year! I know, because I have been there, that every day you help them get through their homework is one day closer to them turning out to be mature, delightful, creative adults (who will thank you frequently for being there during this critical time of their lives).


Marie C. Ricks is the host of Utah's Radio AM 820 "Home and Shopping Show," Saturdays from 10-noon. She is also a motivational speaker and the author of the House of Order Handbook and other home organization materials. To order her products, offer comments, suggestions or questions, go to: www.houseoforder.com.