How to Make Homework Fun for Children
Studies indicate that homework is deemed essential for a child’s education as revisiting the day’s learning helps to make it stick. Children absorb best when what is taught at the school is reinforced at home.
Given the reality of today’s world wherein both the parents are either working or busy in most of the households, there is a very small window for parents to carve out time to help kids with homework. As a result of paucity of time and limited attention spans, more often than not, homework gets tiresome and exhausting for both the parent as well as the child.
Experts have however laid out several potential ways that can be used to make homework fun for the kids. Let’s take a look at some of those and feel free to experiment with them to see what works for your family:
- Avoid negative reinforcement – It is often noted that some parents work on the premise of fear and negative reinforcement in an effort to make kids do their homework. “If you don’t do your homework, you will score the least in your exams and we will feel embarrassed”, “You will be a failure in life if you don’t learn this concept now”. We need to be careful of the kind of thoughts and ideas we imprint in our children’s psyche. These negative statements can have a long-lasting effect on their self-esteem and harm their confidence levels. Instead, focus only on positive and encouraging statements and make them understand how fun it is to learn new things.
- Tap into their creativity – As kids get older, homework can become more and more intense. Subjects like history, physics, biology involve a lot of text and reading. You can encourage your kids to memorize a history event by creating a short role play/ skit; for biology, let them showcase what they learned in the biology lesson by stirring up a simple petri dish experiment at home and so on.
- Buddy it up - Homework as it is can be a tedious activity but allowing group learning or inviting a homework buddy can help transform tediousness into enthusiasm. Set up boundaries for the kids and their friends that they need to finish their activity within a stated time frame, introduce some healthy competition like race against time, and offer a group reward at the end of the timeslot.
- Design a cool workspace - Of all the organizations around that world that are deemed as coolest places to work at, tech leaders such as Google, Apple take pride in having ergonomic and comfortable workspaces that aid movement and thereby increase productivity. Taking a cue from such organizations, if your home situation allows, transform their workspace - let your child work on the same table where you are working or let them stand over a tall desk. You may even try furnishing a yoga ball or a bean bag and have them work on different kinds of furniture until they find something that they really like.
- Do not shy away from digital apps- No doubt there is a surge in screen time for kids and as parents, you want to reduce it as much as possible. However, occasional usage of learning apps can actually help them grasp a concept better and faster and make it easier to complete the assigned homework activity. You may review the app or the video first to decide if it’s worth sharing with your child.
- Be present – Some kids just want the presence of their parents around while they are doing their homework as it imparts a sense of calm and security for them. Depending on your kid’s personality, see if being right next to them improves their productivity and makes them happier. Doing homework together is a great bonding experience as well.
- Write it down for them – There will be some days where the child would have to complete multiple written assignments. It may seem counterproductive but, on those days, it is ok for you to write down, say their math multiplication or subtraction answers, while they think out aloud and you know they know how to solve the problem.
- Don’t forget the breaks – Studies indicate that the attention span of a child is 10-15 minutes. Of course, through practice or activities and games, these can be made longer but, in the meantime, it is imperative that we respect a child’s brain and their attention spans. If you see your children losing interest after a few minutes of homework, have them move around the house or their workspace for 1-2 minutes – during this time they may hop or jump around, water their plants, cuddle with their pet, or take a bite of their favourite snack. Then have them come back to the table and resume their homework.
Each child is different and so is the environment at home. Some of the tips and tricks might work better for one family than another; as parents and caregivers, we need to test out a few and see what method is most optimal.
There will also be some days when our kids will slack or not be able to enjoy and complete their homework, and we need to respect their choices on those days as well. Allow them to face the consequences of not completing it at school. However, we should avoid instilling fear of failure in our children at all cost and keep nudging them into working towards a better future through words of encouragement and positive reinforcements.