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Homework. I’m sure many parents have a love-hate relationship with it. Or even more of a hate-relationship with it.

Our daughter has her first year of homework. Usually it is just one page of counting or sight words, and it is fun and engaging. She actually enjoys doing it (we can only hope that feeling will remain when she is older). 

But we do not make her homework a priority in the afternoon when she gets home. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know homework is part of life for kids. Stimulating learning doesn’t stop when the bell rings after school. And we believe keeping up on school work is an important lesson in responsibility, even if research may be beginning to show homework isn’t as beneficial as once believed. I have a Doctorate and my husband has a Masters. We highly value education in our home. But what we value even more is playing outside, imagination, spontaneous trips to get frozen yogurt, going hiking, and most importantly, spending time as a family. 

Ensuring our children do their homework is an important lesson in responsibility. I would rather our children learn a hard lesson from forgetting their homework while they are young, than forgetting to do an important work project when they have bills to pay. Fighting and begging our children to do their homework isn’t helping foster our relationship with them, helping them create a healthy relationship with learning, or sending them positive messages about their abilities. Constantly reminding them to get their homework done doesn’t send them a positive message that we believe they are capable. And the one time you forget to remind them, it will be the time they forget, and it will be your fault because you forgot to remind them. 

We don’t want our children to equate their value and worth with their accomplishments. Kids can come to believe their value lies in how well they are accomplishing tasks. When we choose to play or spend time together instead, or make homework a fun family experience, we are simply enjoying being together. Our children will not be inadequate because they do not finish all their homework projects. But they will be more successful if they have a strong relationship with their parents, who are supportive and love them even when a few assignments fall by the wayside.

Ensuring our kids have a chance to reflect on what they are learning at school is important for their retention. Taking the time to connect with them after school and have conversations about their day not only allows them to reflect, but it shows our interest in their lives.

We value our time together after school. We don’t want homework to be a battle, or create an unhealthy relationship with school and learning. We want after school learning to be fun, imaginative, and engaging. Learning is more likely to happen when parents are engaged in meaningful activities with their children. 

This year let’s not allow homework to replace family time. Let’s not battle with our kids about getting it done. Let’s enjoy our time together and make after school learning fun, memorable, and exciting.

Here are a few tips on making homework and after school learning more fun:

Do it outside! Be sure your child gets exercise too!

Get excited! Don’t battle with your kids, but instead get excited about what they are learning.

Let your child teach you their homework.

Make it a family affair.

Have a snack.

Find the best place. Maybe at the table or snuggled up on the couch.

Work alongside your child. Answer your emails while he or she does their work.

Eliminate distractions.

Create a clean and welcoming place to work.

Play relaxing or stimulating music.

Find a reward system or check-off system that works for your family.

Allow them to choose if they do homework before dinner or after dinner.

Allow them to choose if they do homework at the kitchen table or at their desk.

Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t work for your family, and then focus on what works.

 

What do you do to make homework more fun or make more time for family in the evenings?

Emily Scott

Emily Scott, PhD, is a stay at home mom of three, and part time parenting consultant and blogger who has written and spoken on various parenting topics including child development, ACEs, and tips on raising responsible kids. 

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