Yes it can. It takes a bit of disguise and derring-do, but homework can be great fun for the entire family. How do I know? Pure panic and desperation.
All parents know that homework isn’t about learning academics, it’s about learning how to be a grown up. It’s about following through and fulfilling a commitment. And, oh what a tough lesson it is, especially when the commitment deadline falls on a beautiful day or a shoe sale.
If you’ve tried everything that the experts have told you to do regarding good homework practices – like making sure your child has enough rest, a set time for homework, a set place for homework, no known other learning disabilities, good lighting, a full tummy– and none of it seems to be working, then here are a few desperation-generated alternatives:
1. Powerful incentives. This one never fails…Absolutely no Wii until at least one page of homework is finished, and then and only then can the reluctant student play all 32 time trial races.
2. Creative competition. An irresistible challenge does wonders. Try this on your homework-avoidant offspring: “Sweetie, can you finish your math facts before Mom finishes packing your lunch?” (For this to work, make sure your child always wins, even if it takes you an hour and a half to make a sandwich).
3. Spelling word Pictionary. After his turn to draw on our whiteboard, my son always blurts out the answer before anyone has a chance to guess. This can work in your favor…make up a rule so that whoever answers first has to spell the word!
4. Taking turns being the teacher. It is quite comical to see how a child interprets his teacher’s mannerisms. Through Connor’s outstanding mimicry, we discovered what a kind and loving teacher he has this year, and what a wonderfully stern taskmaster she can be when children misbehave. You go, Mrs. C!
5. Think yucky. Anything that eats its young, drops its tail and excretes poison through scaly and/or slimy skin is an irresistible come-on to a reading-averse youngster. Make sure you have lots of books about reptiles and amphibians to help meet those 1/2 an hour per day reading requirements.
6. Be relevant. Keep in mind that an assignment that involves writing a paragraph or a story can be about ANYTHING. A favorite movie, a video game or an unusual episode, such as the curious incident of how our dog ate her own yurp (see #5 above) all work just fine. Just get the darn thing written.
7. Go on Vacation. Why homework is fun on vacation but not at home eludes me, but my son loves to do homework on an airplane. Hurray for fare wars!
….And if all else fails, put the responsibility back on his or her shoulders. One afternoon, I threw up my hands, and said, “Son, I’ve tried everything I know to get you to do your homework. If you don’t want to do it, I can’t make you. The consequences are in your hands now — it is up to you and only you if you want to move up to third grade, or to behave like a big boy or to help the teachers who have been trying to help you.” Then, I cried (but I didn’t want to lay a guilt trip on him, so I did my sniffling in another room). After about five minutes, he came to the kitchen table, sat down and began to complete his homework. I can’t say that this works every time – it doesn’t – but it gave me a glimpse of the man my son will grow up to be.