Parents around the world would love the magic formula to encourage kids to do their homework! Alas, it’s not as simple as waving a wand, but there are some methods for encouraging your kids to develop and stick to a regular homework routine. For some parents, effective encouragement to get your kids to do their homework will also be about changing your own approaches to homework enforcement. Don’t worry, it’s not hard, it’s just about taking a moment to work it through.
Understand the benefits of homework . If you’re not convinced that homework matters, it will be even harder to convince your kids. There are some good reasons behind a moderate amount of homework:
- Homework reinforces learning taught during the day. Some learning won’t stick as well unless kids give it more practice and the classroom environment isn’t necessarily going to provide adequate time for more practice. This is of special importance for math and critical thinking skills. 
- Sometimes homework teaches additional skills not taught at school due to lack of time or resources. This is a “broadening” learning effect of homework. 
- Homework instills self-discipline. teaching time management. organizational skills, concentration skills, and self-responsibility.  Self-discipline is a key life skill that can only be learned in the doing.
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Make peace with the reality that most kids don’t like doing homework. When there are many other infinitely more interesting things happening, especially in our electronic gadget age, it’s hard to make homework appealing, so stop trying.
As a parent, guardian, or other person responsible for getting kids to do homework, acceptance isn’t about agreement with them. It’s about understanding and infusing the rest of your approach with that understanding, while remaining prepared to set the boundaries and stand by your expectations that they will do it.
Be a facilitator rather than a force to be reckoned with. You can cajole, plead, yell, threaten, bribe, and jump up and down with your face turning blue but none of this negative and mutually exhausting behavior will make your kids do anything. Sure, they’ll respond to immediate threats of withdrawing privileges and you standing over them until it’s done, but this will not turn into reformed homework behavior, and who has time to stand over them instead of getting other tasks done? Instead, aim to facilitate the homework process as much as possible:
- Provide a distinct, comfortable, well-lit, quiet, and non-distracting place for the homework to be completed.  Somewhere away from electronic items, pedestrian traffic, and other kids playing is ideal.
- Ensure that your child has everything needed to do homework, from pens and paper, to a laptop and books, calculator or phone with a calculator and be sure to get special project materials in advance, to avoid the excuse of “I don’t have what I need”.  Take a moment to sit down with them when they start homework to see what else they might need, including bookmarking quality kids’ information websites they can use as part of their homework research tools, such as the US Kids.gov site,  and an online dictionary.
- Invite or encourage your child to keep you informed about homework progress and any interesting facts that arise out of it.
Discuss homework with your kids in a direct and enabling manner. At the beginning of each term or semester, sit down and talk about how your kid intends to handle homework in the coming months. In this way, you set mutually shared ground rules for getting homework done, ground rules that you can call on to remind them when they’re slipping, or to praise them for when they’re meeting them.
- Empower your kids. Rather than setting the time for homework, have a family meeting to discuss possible times. Let the kids feel they’re somewhat in charge by giving them the choice of when to do their homework—before dinner, after dinner, or half before and half after. The only rider on this is to refuse to allow homework to be left until just before bedtime – set an agreed cut-off point by which time homework must be completed; this can be sweetened by making allowance for fun reading time, or other enjoyable wind-down activity prior to bedtime. And you can help by keeping the evening mealtime as regular as possible.
- Find out if there are specific areas of homework they’re having difficulties with. Ask them if they would like to consider having more hands-on help with those issues (you, a sibling, or a tutor, for example). Sometimes homework isn’t working because they’re struggling with it in class, as well as, out of class.
- Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework. Having your child do the hard work first will mean he is most alert when facing the biggest challenges. The easier material will seem to go faster once fatigue begins to set in.
- Agree on homework free times, such as parts of the weekend, or Friday nights, etc. and allow them to plan how they use this free time.
Use praise to achieve intrinsic motivation. Praising work done well and ignoring or downplaying poor performance is an approach that will enthuse your kid a lot more than focusing on the negatives, and it helps to remove the tension for you, along with any inclination to tear your hair out.
- Be careful when using rewards to spur homework completion. The aim is to rely principally on intrinsic motivators (fostering satisfaction at a job completed) rather than material rewards. Bribing is the ultimate demotivating strategy because any kid who associates completing homework with a new DS game or an allowance increase learns to do the activity for material gain rather than internal gratification. or for greater understanding. Occasional rewards for a special project done really well can be a great boost but regular material rewards are best avoided.
- Reward homework with exciting games and/or toys completed with praise, including informing your kid that you are really proud of her for being organized/timely/proactive. etc. It is important to define the exact reason why you are proud of your kid, so that she knows what to keep up. The idea is to “catch them doing something good” and keep noticing the good. 
- Ignore poor behavior. When your kids don’t achieve what they need to, avoid a yelling match. Keep your message simple, reminding your kids what you have agreed upon together when discussing how they’d approach homework and expressing both disappointment and a hope to see things return to normal the next day.
- Keep real rewards simple, such as a walk to the park. a pizza dinner, spending time playing a game with your kid that you usually find too hard for you, going to the zoo. etc. This way you remain involved, your child links good performance with spending more fun time with you, and having fun as a family.
Shift the responsibility from you to your child. This may feel really hard for you, especially in a time when parents feel a sense of self-responsibility about homework, but it’s absolutely vital that your child learns as early as possible that the consequences for not completing homework rest on them, not on you. Don’t carry the weight of your child’s unwillingness to complete homework on your shoulders; provided you are giving them a supportive and caring structured environment, and you’ve defined daily homework times, homework not completed is your child’s lesson in learning about self-responsibility.  After a few times of learning first hand the consequences of not completing homework, your child will soon start to see that he or she has responsibility in this matter. This is not the same as not caring at all. It is about taking a conscious approach to letting your kids learn to be responsible.
Let the kids deal with the consequences of not doing their homework. Teachers are usually not very happy with students if they don’t do homework. If your child flat-out refuses to do their work, then let them see what their teacher does the next day. They probably will do their homework after that!
- Naturally, if you have a child with learning or other disabilities, you may need to vary this more hands-off approach. However, don’t be afraid to seek support from professional people skilled in your child’s particular disability; getting help is important when you don’t know what else to do.
Remove your knee-jerk reaction of needing to do your kid’s homework. If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away. Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills. 
Be engaged, not nosy. Nobody appreciates the nosy, stand-over person, and kids are no different. Try to make your approach to their homework one of engaged curiosity, not of nosiness or trying to cross off every discrete task as it’s done.
- Avoid asking your kid for precise details of homework the moment he or she walks through the door. Allow for chill time first.
- Avoid probing deeper than you need to. If your kid says “I’ve got math homework”, ask “What sort of math?”, not “How many pages and exactly what sort of equations? I want to see it when you’re done, mister.”
- Avoid demanding that you keep track of homework. Place that expectation back on your kid or you’ll suffer the consequences of having to keep constant checks on everything, be at the receiving end of your kid’s irritation, and end up realizing that all you’ve really taught your kid is that you’ll manage her affairs rather than the other way around.
Consider doing your homework at the same time as your younger kid. When you are inspiring younger kids to get involved in homework, one neat trick is to do some homework of your own, to show your child that you’re being responsible and completing essential chores too. Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook. 
Find out what motivates your kid. A recent study has shown that middle school aged kids who have an ambition that requires education before a career are more likely to knuckle down and do their homework than kids who lack ambition or who seek to work in an area that doesn’t require a university education. 
- If your child is motivated to enter a career requiring college education. you can use this knowledge to encourage your child to view homework as an investment.
- Even where this is not apparent, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your children about the importance of ensuring that all opportunities are left open and that homework enables this. Of course, this type of reasoning is best reserved for middle school and up.
Find a new name for homework. Every kid’s ears prick up at the mention of “work”. It’s bad enough asking them to clean their room or to clear the latest art and craft disaster off the floor without having to insist also that they do homework. A little trick is to sidestep this in your household, and no matter what school is referring to it as, calling it something like “home learning”, “brain boosting”, or even just plain old “study”.  Always talk about it in terms that suggest it’s about learning and growing, not about work.
- Be positive about homework. Use positive language for it and subtly talk about how learning will help your child in the future. For example, tell your would-be actress daughter that she won’t be able to memorize her lines if she’s not a stellar reader. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.
Turn the homework into a game. Usually kids don’t do homework because it’s boring. Why not turn it into fun?
- Put math problems in terms of sweets, or money. When it’s about sweets, tell them they will win the answer’s number of sweets and that he can eat a part of them when the next correct problem set is done correctly. Or play for pennies, monopoly money (you can make your own with blank index cards), or points that can be redeemed for treats, such as a visit to the pool or park.
- You can also turn difficult words into weird funny ones. Or, make collectible cards, like baseball cards, only for vocabulary or spelling words.
Encourage professional presentation and neatness. If they’re producing messy homework, try to catch them in the process and encourage a neater effort.
Restrict phone calling during homework time. Be the guardian of incoming calls and tell your kid’s friends that they can call back after a certain time. If your kid cannot resist texting, ask for the cell phone to be placed in a central location (it’s a good idea to create a place where all of you leave cell phones overnight), and let them retrieve it once homework is completed.
Try giving a hint, or if it’s math, show how to do a simpler problem of the same type. Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it. Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
Stay informed. Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
Be firm. You won’t do your child any favors if one day you agree to a schedule and the next agree to throw it out the window. You will be tested. Be ready, and simply say “We agreed you’d do it now, and that’s how we’ll continue. I look forward to playing a round of Mario Kart Wii with you at 7pm.”
Don’t meddle. Be available to answer questions or help with problems, but don’t make homework time even more painful for your kids by hovering over them, judging everything they do.
Beware: rewarding and praising your child to do their homework is different then bribing your child into doing their homework. Never bribe a child into doing their homework, or they’ll always want the bribe.
Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration. Let your child take a short break if they are having trouble keeping their mind on an assignment.
Turn off the TV when it is within hearing distance of a child doing homework. If there are other members of the family watching TV, shift the TV to a place where it cannot be heard.
Don’t try to motivate them with threats and fear. You might eventually succeed in terrorizing them enough to get immediate obedience but you’ll drive them away so deep that you break their trust.
Beware: don’t belittle or name-call a child who’s having trouble with homework. Calling them stupid will become a self fulfilling prophecy and discourage them from even trying. If they get more trouble from trying to get it done than they would ignoring it completely, they’ll never do it. All you’ll do is break their trust in you.
Talk to your kids’ teachers if you feel their homework load is unreasonable. In elementary school, ten minutes times the grade number is sufficient; more than 90 minutes for middle schoolers or more than two hours for high school students is excessive.