I recently did a Google search for 'homework strategies' which resulted in "about 21,200,000" hits in just 0.18 seconds. Some titles caught my attention. Of the dozen or so articles that I opened, most shared some very basic strategies to help kids complete their homework with less complaints. Some of these basic ideas include the following:
· Set up a place in the home for your child to complete their homework. It's best if this area is not right in the midst of family activity, but rather, in a quiet place but within range of parents so that if monitoring is necessary, you will be nearby.
· Structure and consistency is necessary. It is important that a routine be established for homework. There should be a regular time set aside every day for your child to complete homework. This should be established after consulting the extracurricular activities of the various family members, but once set, should remain consistent.
· Use of rewards or incentives for homework completion.
Related to this last point, I would like to add a very simple and powerful suggestion to help you help your child with homework. In fact, this suggestion is not new at all and has been used as a powerful motivator by parents for years and years. It is sometimes referred to as the Grandmother's Rule. Urban Dictionary used the following definition: “The general guidelines used by parents, grandparents, and teachers to motivate children towards correct behavior”. Simply stated, is the idea of First Work, Then Play. Also known as the Premack Principle, a simple definition provided by Wikipedia states that "any high frequency activity can be used as a reinforcer for any lower frequency activity”. So, for example, you might say to your child, "Once you finish your homework (low frequency activity) you may have 1/2 hour of screen time (high frequency activity)". The inverse of this principle is also simple, “If you don't finish your homework, you don't play”. The trick here is to never waiver and give in to whining, begging, pleading, etc. By remaining calm and steadfast in your resolve, your message will be clear. It's at least worth a try.
On a separate but related note, the above discussion assumes an amount of homework appropriate for the child’s age and grade. It also assumes that the child is able to complete their homework with some level of independence. When homework challenges rise to a more significant level, it may signal that other factors might be responsible. A careful evaluation may be needed to determine if there are potential underlying reasons for your child’s struggle with homework.