Help! How Can I Get My Kids to Do Their Homework? Ask Emily



Without a doubt, one of the most common questions I have been asked as an educational enrichment teacher is,“My child won’t do his homework. How can I make him?”

But. Here’s the deal: I don’t really know the answer to this question! In my perfect little world, kids are all like I was. They just do their work because they are supposed to and because they want their parents to be happy (Can you say “conflict-avoidant?”).

That being said, as an adult, I also realize that my ideal world is not all parents’ reality. Lucky for you, I married someone with this exact problem! That’s right, when my husband – let’s call him A.K. – was in school, he wouldn’t do his homework, and he went to great lengths on a nightly basis to achieve this.

So, in hopes of being both informative and honest, I thought I would try something a little different for this post. I’ve combined my research on tips to get students to do their homework with my husband’s “hindsight approval rating.” In this, he will rate from 1-5 pencils how well he thinks this tactic would have worked for him. Let’s get to it.  


5. Learn from Man’s Best Friend:

I really like this tip. That’s because I’m obsessed with dogs. But believe it or not, the core values of successful dog training can actually be utilized when it comes to getting your student to do his or her homework! You can read more about this Sparks of Genius, but the basis is as follows: set expectations, switch the focus from negative to positive, catch your child in the act of doing something good, and reward that good behavior.

homework tip rating 4 pencilsA.K.’S PENCIL APPROVAL RATING: 4/5 PENCILS

This would have worked for me because it focuses on the positives, instead of the negative. I didn’t give it a five because I normally only did my homework when there wasn’t much of it, and I could get it done quickly.

4. Don’t use the “H” Word:

According to Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller in their Article, “How to Make Your Kids do Homework (Without having a Nervous Breakdown Yourself),” you should replace the word “homework” with the word “study.” Having “study” time instead of “homework” time will get your student into the habit valuing education as a whole instead of dreading homework itself. Doing so will also help establish a routine. Regardless of whether or not your student has specific assignments to complete each night, he or she will still have to set aside time to study.

homework tip rating 3 pencilsA.K.’S PENCIL APPROVAL RATING: 3/5 PENCILS 

I see how this could work for some kids, but to me, homework was homework.  I think my parents tried this on me once, and every time the word “study” came out of their mouths, I was mentally replacing it with, “work for school that I am not doing in school” or… “homework.”

3. Reset Rewards:

Sparks of Genius recommends switching from material (think video game time, internet time, cell phone time, etc.) to verbal rewards. For example, try saying something like, “Wow! It must feel great to have all of your work out of the way ahead of time,” next time your child does his or her work. This starts to reset the “What do I get?” attitude with a “What can I achieve?” attitude. And the result of this change is a reward in itself.

homework tips rating 5 pencilsA.K.’S PENCIL APPROVAL RATING: 5/5 PENCILS

I gave this one a 5 because rewards do help, and they can also show real-world results.  I felt like when I was asked to do my homework, there was nothing in it for me, and I was never gaining anything.

2. Fire Yourself:

That’s right. You should fire yourself as a parent and let your kid be the boss for once, at least according to this post (and, to be honest, many other posts I read on this quest. Like this one and other posts featured in this article.). This tip focuses on creating a homework plan with your child that allows him or her to be empowered in making the decisions.

Have a meeting and appoint your child CHO (Chief Homework Officer, of course! Are you groaning yet?). You want homework to be done at a certain time each day? Have your child pencil it in. You want routine? Let your child set it (within reason). You can even draw up a contract, but let your child know that as the boss, he or she needs to stick to it. And speaking of consequences…

homework tip rating 4 pencilsA.K.’S PENCIL APPROVAL RATING: 4/5 PENCILS

I like this one because it lets the kid control the situation. Instead of, “Do your homework now,” it allows more freedom for the person who actually has to do it. 

 1. Back off:

Let your child face the real-world consequences of failing to do what is expected of him or her. Easier said than done, let your child know that you are there for him or her and will provide what he or she needs when he or she asks, but then let it go. Once your child experiences the consequences of his or her actions several times, he or she will see that it is his or her own actions that lead to success or failure. To ease off slowly with your training wheels on, “ask yourself what worked in the past” and check out further tips from Empowering Parents.

homework tips rating 5 pencilsA.K.’S PENCIL APPROVAL RATING: 5/5 PENCILS

I believe that people learn from making mistakes.  In my experience, it seemed that I always had someone there trying to prevent my mistakes before they happened, as most parents try to do. For me, though, it didn’t allow me to see the consequences of my actions, which would have been much more effective.

What do you think? Do you struggle with getting your child to do his or her homework? What strategies have worked for you? Let us know what you think of these tips in the comments!

Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead

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