18 Dec Nine ways to make homework more fun for children
After a long day at school and with so many distractions outside and around the house, homework isn’t always the most appealing activity for children. Sometimes, getting children to do their homework promptly, to a good standard and in such a way that benefits their learning is challenging.
In fact, homework is an important part of the learning process. As children move through school and into higher education, the demands on learning outside the classroom increase, as does the requirement for independent learning.
Top tips for making homework more enjoyable
1. Give kids an awesome workspace
Having their own space to work can help children be creative, productive and motivated. A variety of studies have pointed toward their being a link between children have their own desk and better exam performance. It makes sense that having a dedicated space providing a calm and organised environment improves their work and learning experience.
Spend some time with your kids designing their very own desk, folders, lamps and notebooks; really help them make their working space their own. This is also a great way of encouraging kids to think about what helps them to be productive as well as encouraging them to be forward-thinking about what they might need for homework as well as helping them feel more grown-up and independent.
2. Keep a schedule and plan ahead
Depending on how old your children are, you may have to help them with this one. Planning your time is a valuable life skill and it’s never too early to start practicing it. It also helps students keep to deadlines, avoid stresses and clearly outline when homework time is and when they have free time. Having a daily cut-off time when work stops promotes efficiency within work time and ensures children aren’t working late into the evening, disrupting their sleep or creating undue anxiety.
This is also a great way to help reflect on how long homework takes and if changes to the schedule are required. Having to plan around a family event or something at short notice adds another scheduling challenge but it doesn’t have to cause a problem. You could have a wall planner, pinboard or whiteboard in their room to keep planning visual.
3. Don’t go it alone…
Group study sessions make learning a completely different experience. If you encourage children to invite their friends over for homework, you open up the door to so many positive things; they’ll naturally laugh and have fun with their friends, they’ll be less likely to throw a temper tantrum, and they will all work together to encourage productivity which fosters some lifelong teamwork skills which are so valuable in the long-term.
If your child is stuck on something they have a group there with them to help out, and vice versa; your child will have the opportunity to explain things and take on a leadership role. Another benefit to this is that you have the chance to give the kids a mini play-date with each other afterwards as a reward!
4. Prioritise their weaknesses
Ever find that your child is fine with one subject but really hates studying for another? Perhaps it’s a specific element of a subject that gets them down. If so, it’s time to prioritise the exact thing that they struggle with and turn that weakness into a strength. There’s nothing worse than having a fear of algebra or trigonometry that haunts a child their entire life!
This approach to self-development will stand them in good stead and show them that just because they can’t get something right the first time, they can work on it in order to get better.
5. Let them use phones and tablets
There are so many apps available for children to download that offer an entire range of benefits, as well as providing a new, modern approach to solving problems. Using a phone or tablet to research things to help with homework can help children in numerous ways:
- Using technology for their homework might give them a sense of novelty about a new way of working.
- It provides a whole host of explanations of the same concept, enabling them to find a way to learn that is the most suitable for them. YouTube is the source of millions of educational videos from teaching professionals.
- It lets them feel more ‘grown-up’; they’ve been entrusted to use their phones responsibly and as part of their homework. This encourages independent thinking, a sense of self-pride and a deeper understanding as to what teaching methods work best for them.
6. Guide them to the answer, but don’t do it for them.
Being stuck on a question or other part of their homework is no fun at all. However, avoid the urge to give them the answer to end the ordeal! They will have a much greater sense of satisfaction if they can get there themselves, even if you’ve helped show them the way.
This is also going to help them think more dependently with the rest of their work and give them confidence in themselves. Always answering the call for help by providing the answer will engrain and learned helplessness; the direct opposite of resourcefulness and resilience.
7. Get creative
Not all tasks need to be done quietly with a pen and paper. Some subjects allow for more creative learning processes or may even require an entirely different approach. Even subjects like maths can require creative solutions to problems so try helping kids visualise how to solve them.
Perhaps some real-life context for what they’re learning will aid their understanding or act to motivate them. Sometimes it feels like we’re working for working’s sake and we don’t always see the benefit or application.
8. Nutrition is important
Nutrition can easily be overlooked during a busy day but without proper nutrition and hydration, working into the evening is made even harder. It’s important that children have eaten enough of the right foods throughout the day and aren’t hungry or overfull whilst they’re trying to concentrate. Feeling tired and hangry is not a recipe for an enjoyable homework session!
Consider giving your child small, healthy snacks to fuel their study and ensure they always have a drink to hand.
9. Add a reward or use restrictions
In an ideal world, doing a great job of their schoolwork is motivation enough to get it all done and dusted. However, sometimes, having a small reward is required as an extra incentive. You can also employ restrictions on their priveledges if they don’t complete their work such as limiting access to their phones, the internet or games consols. It’s worth noting that the psychology of reward and punishment is complex so your approach with this may need to tie-in to your wider parenting strategy.
Some children struggle with doing their homework and this can have a negative effect on the entire household. However, there are definitely ways to make their experience better and improve the quality of their work and how much they learn. Try a few of the tips we’ve covered here and try to make good habits stick. Identify which of these has the largest impact on learning so you can focus on getting them right.