As another school year looms (or has already started), many busy working parents are bracing themselves for the added stress of the wearingly familiar homework battles.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll sometimes struggle just to get through all the tasks you need to complete each day. And the prospect of having to fight with your child to get them to complete their homework can sometimes feel like one battle too far.
But imagine instead if, for once, your child actually looked forward to homework? Or at least, didn’t kick up an almighty fuss every time you mentioned it – saving you just that bit of extra emotional energy and time.
Penny Fray, founder of Pen and Ink Tuition is confident that she can help busy parents with her expert advice on making homework and learning more fun.
Six tactics to help make homework more fun
So if you’re already dreading the inevitable homework fights, try Penny’s six simple tactics.
1) Be positive
As this article explains, our mood – positive or negative – is infectious. So a positive approach to homework from you should rub off on your child, saving you both tears and time.
Why not go one step further and make homework a special time to look forward to? Find an admin job you need to do, and sit down next to your child and work together. You could even throw in a hot chocolate and a plate of biscuits!
2) Empower them
Give your child (some of) the power, and mutually agree on a time when they would most like to work. Some children get sleepy on a full stomach, others get a second wind. Some are natural procrastinators.
And if your child wants to work in their bedroom with the music full blast, you could agree to the bedroom, but suggest that the music comes afterwards.
3) Don’t do it for them
By all means facilitate your child’s homework, but don’t do it for them. If they’re struggling to understand a concept, maybe plan a family visit to a museum. Or seek out an app or website that may help to enthuse them about a topic.
4) Plan breaks
Plan how much time your child will need to work, and build in breaks for tasty snacks and a quick run around the garden. Knowing that they only have bite-size chunks to complete makes it easier to contemplate the idea of homework.
5) Study with a friend
Doing things with a friend automatically makes it more fun. So maybe suggest a friend comes over to study as a homework buddy. Once they’ve finished studying they can then enjoy some time to play together.
But keep an eye on them to ensure that they really are working, and not just distracting each other.
6) Get a tutor
If you need a bit of help, a tutor could inspire your child and take the pressure off you. Tutors can help with schoolwork generally, or prepare your child for their 11+ or other exams.
They’re also a great way of boosting your child’s confidence, and a good tutor should make learning more fun!
Fun learning tips for every age group
Learning doesn’t have to be a dull chore. Penny shares her tips for helping to instill a sense of fun in learning and schoolwork in children from different age groups.
Reading should be fun, not a chore. So if your child doesn’t fancy reading their schoolbook, let them choose one from their own collection. Agree to read one page and take it in turns.
Introduce some props. Is maths a problem? Use Smarties as counters and reward them for right answers by allowing them to eat some. Or let them pair socks and count how many belongs to each member of the family.
Children this age can be pretty competitive. So let them set you a challenge based on their homework, and see who comes up with the answer first! Or set a timer and see if they can finish a problem before the timer runs out.
Suggest working outside in the garden on a nice day, or even pop into a local coffee shop and order a treat while they work. Invest in a whiteboard and some markers to do some of the working out somewhere other than an exercise book.
Moody teenagers often present the biggest challenge. Encourage them by showing them what they might achieve if they work hard. Let them interview your friends about the rewards of their jobs and how they got there. Or take them to industry shows to show what various careers entail.
Persist until you find a way that works
Just like adults, every child is different, with their own motivations and drivers. So persist until you find the one that works for your child – and teach them that learning and working hard can be fun, and worth the rewards.
Not only will you make your life easier now with fewer battles and moans over homework, but you’ll hopefully be instilling a positive and enthusiastic approach to learning and working in your child for life.
Penny Fray is founder of Pen and Ink Tuition in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Pen and Ink Tuition specialise in maths and English tuition, 11 plus preparation and holiday courses for 11 plus. You can call them on 01494 798126.Penny Fray