Homework Success: No More After-School Battles with These 5 Tips


Unfortunately, not many kids enjoy sitting down to complete their homework. Here’s some tips to help motivate your kids to do their homework and feel like a champ.

By Barbara Prupas, PsyD, Renown Health psychologist

For most students and their parents, homework is just a fact of life. But nightly homework sessions don’t have to be painful for everyone. Here are five helpful tips for homework success.

  1. Let your child choose the homework space and their own pace. Whether it’s at the dinner table, the living room or their own room, include your child in deciding what space is best for completing homework assignments. Your child will probably be more motivated if they are a part of making these decisions. Some additional tips:
  • Talk with your child about the best time and place to sit down and do their homework assignments.
  • Let them chose supplies — fun pencils, bright folders — and decorate their homework space.
  • Make sure healthy snacks, drinks and “brain food” are readily available.
  • Stay close while they work to make sure they stay on task, but don’t hover.
  1. Avoid the power struggle. When homework becomes a power struggle between you and your child, you both lose. So make sure you keep the homework experience positive and supportive by keeping the following in mind:
  • Notice your child’s qualities, not their shortcomings.
  • Praise your child’s effort, not the final product.
  • Keep your emotions in-check — don’t “futurize” or “dramatize” the situation by telling your child they won’t get into college if they don’t complete this night’s assignment.
  • Be a role model and read or work on something yourself while your child does their own homework.
  1. Be consistent. Setting a homework routine is important for children to develop study skills that will help as they progress through school. Habits form quickly, so get your child to complete his or her homework at the same time each day. Here’s some steps to take:
  • Complete homework first and save electronics as a reward if needed.
  • If there’s no homework to be done, it’s a good opportunity for reading time.
  • Breaking up homework sessions can be ideal for some children (before and after dinner or possibly reading in the morning).
  • Completed homework should be in their backpack ready for school tomorrow.
  1. Keep a balance. If your child is consistently overwhelmed and confused about their homework, reach out to their teacher and talk about it. Ongoing communication between parent and teacher has been shown to speed up a child’s learning. Parents should encourage middle and high school students to talk with their teachers independently. In addition:
  • Every child should have time for family and exercise every day.
  • Every child should have a foolproof way of keeping track of assignments.
  1. Know your child’s strengths and challenges. One of the main reasons children don’t do homework is because they fear failure. Your child may be unmotivated if they feel anxious and lack confidence in their abilities. Here’s some solutions:
  • Remedial work (memorizing multiplication tables) may be necessary to supplement homework.
  • Tutors or study buddies can be invaluable for boosting your child’s skills and confidence.
  • Parents should not tutor their own children. Instead, hire a tutor who is less emotionally involved. Sometimes teenagers make great tutors for younger children.
  • Keep the atmosphere light, helpful and encouraging.

With these tips in mind — and in practice — you’ll see more smiles than eye-rolls at homework time.

Do you have other ideas? Let us know in the comments!