Three Steps to Motivating Children to Own Their Homework

Parenting in the modern age requires knowing how to “coach” a children to take ownership of their homework, a skill few of us have.  When parents coach more than direct, their children are more likely to take responsibility for their school and homework.  To coach successfully, parents must stop reacting out of fear that it won’t get done and stop resorting to controlling the child and the homework.  The first step in doing this is to help the child plan ahead and take an active role in preparing for the homework.  Here are steps for getting children self-motivated about homework.

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The Supplies
Sit down with your child and help him come up with a list of supplies. Use your parent veto power to ensure the right items are purchased, but give him control over the shopping task.  Teach him much about money and shopping by letting him carry the basket at the store, pick out the items (with your guidance), and even use a calculator while he shops to add up his purchases.  Depending on his age, you may even want to give him the money to carry and allow him to complete the transaction.  Many office supply store chains have employees ready to serve, so why not allow your child to work directly with the salesperson while you tag along to monitor the process.

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The Location
Homework is often done at the dining room or kitchen table, or worse yet, in front of the television.  These high traffic and distracting locations are not conducive to concentration and learning.  Allow your child to help you determine where the homework will be done on a daily basis and have her help you set up this special location.  Be sure that the lighting is appropriate, seating is comfortable, and visual stimulation is low.  Don’t be afraid to mark it officially with a banner or sign that reads, “The Homework Center.”  One parent I know even marked it off with police tape! This adds to the reverence of the space.

The Schedule
Allow your child to determine what time it will begin and for how long.  Sometimes allowing for a 30 – 60 minute play or snack period before the homework begins allows them to wind down and get in the frame of mind for learning.  Be sure to ban entertainment electronics during homework time to minimize distractions.  This “NO ELECTRONICS” ban should be kept in place even on days when there is no homework.  If no homework is assigned on a particular day, your child can read, write, draw, or one of many other creative activities instead.  What child wouldn’t risk telling his parent he has no homework if he’s dreading a particular assignment and the excitement of a fun video game is overwhelming?


If you implement these steps, before you know it, your child will begin to feel more in control of the process and you will see results in his work.  Remember to be a coach rather than a controlling parent by checking in with him often and being available for help.  A good coach keeps others on task, focused, and is ready to clear barriers that appear along the way.

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