We all know the drill. Your child comes home from the first few days of school excited for the new school year. That is until the homework assignments start. Then, begin the hours of negotiations, threats and rewards to get your child to finish his or her assignment before everyone is too tired to accomplish anything.
You may be finding yourself at a loss for how to motivate your child to do homework. And, if your child has a learning disability, it may be even more challenging to get him or her on track. Around my house, the only thing that gets my kids to do homework is to make it fun. How? Here are some tips to get you and your family started.
1. Put a creative spin on the project.
Addition is fine, but can be extremely dry. Spice it up with something your child likes. Most kids love to help bake cookies. So, you can turn your time in the kitchen into a math lesson by measuring cups of flour or adding chocolate chips to each cookie.
Turn science homework into physical experiments. Again, use your cooking to experiment with kitchen chemistry or create Play-Doh solar systems to help visualize an abstract concept.
For history, apply arts and crafts. A few years ago, my daughter made a George Washington doll for class and she enjoyed it so much, that he remains her favorite president to this day. I even found her celebrating President's Day by watching an educational cartoon about Washington!
2. Ditch the desk and create a fun space to work.
A desk and office chair may not be the best option for your child's posture. Instead, get a lap desk and decorate a corner of your home with fabric, pillows, and artwork to make an inviting homework space. Make it a special place just for school work, so your child knows its purpose. Be careful not to make the decorations too distracting; instead, decorate it like a classroom with number lines, cycle of life facts or images of the solar system. In fact, getting your child to help set it up can help teach them those subjects, too!
3. Talk to the teacher.
Anytime I need good advice, I go to a professional - and teachers are no exception! If your child is struggling to sit down and focus on the work, ask his or her teacher for suggestions. For example, I have been struggling with getting my child to write. So, I sent an S.O.S. to her teacher and got feedback on different helpful apps, drawing to writing tips, and techniques like writing with shaving cream to encourage her.
4. Consider the goal of the project and work toward that instead.
Again, you'll need to work with the teacher and take into consideration what sort of grading system is being used. A long-term option like this is much easier to integrate into an IEP, individualized education program, if you have one. Find out what the goal of the night's exercise is and work from there rather than struggling with the specifics of the assignment. This can help your child understand the fundamentals of the subject.
5. Take advantage of online tools and apps.
In my girls' first few years of school, I was told numerous times to use Starfall.com, a website that my kids now love. In addition, this year's teacher sends home suggested apps and websites to check out each week. If you have an iPad or tablet, there are dozens of apps that can be used and shared with your kids. If you're not getting suggestions from school, ask around or research the topic online.
Homework can be a challenge for any child, but it's a key part of training children in the art of taking initiative and getting things done on their own. These tips will help you take the "work" out of homework and create some educational "homefun" instead!