Now it is turn of the third routine. I must say this is a tricky one. I have tried a wide array of techniques and unlike the previous two, this routine necessitates much adjustment. I have never appreciated how different children are from one another, as much as I appreciate it when trying to do homework. Probably like most of you, I have come across plenty of advice to keep firm and be disciplined. Others have suggested using the privilege system where you give a reward for the homework completed. Some even suggest using anxiety as a means to get homework done (usually letting the child know that he will go to school with no homework).
To be honest, I have had the pleasure to try them all. And in my experience they work sometimes but not always. It is usually best to oscillate between different techniques. Homework is one of those times where it is best to have plan Bs and Cs. However I generally find that the following process helps considerably:
- Let the child refresh after school. A small break is useful.
- Remove all external stimuli. Having the TV on cartoons will not help the child to focus.
- Be clear. Let the child know that now is homework time. Also let the child know the maximum time you will allocate for homework.
- Be clear II. You must also be clear in advance about what will happen if the homework is not completed in time. In line with the natural-consequence theme of positive parenting, I suggest for the homework to be discontinued and the child sent to school without homework. I see many parents worry that the teacher will blame them. Use the communications book and write a note to the teacher saying that you are trying to set a structure at home.
- Be close in proximity, but explain that this time should be focused on homework.
- Consider animating homework with music, visual aids and different seating arrangements. I find with some children that sitting down does not help. I use bouncy balls which sometimes work miracles. Properly used, YouTube and the internet can be an excellent source of help.
- Doing homework in the child’s stead defeats the entire purpose. You may get done, but the child would have only learnt that with sufficient tantrums the homework gets done for them. It is better for the sake of everyone to block an hour for homework and simply stopping when that hour expires.
- Give points if using a general behavioural chart. If you already have one going, just give stars for accomplishing the homework task on a weekly basis.
– Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.