Homework. It’s a word that can, all by itself, drive apprehension and anxiety into the hearts of children and adults all across the nation.
It’s no secret: homework just isn’t that fun. That means that you’re likely to get complaining, tantrums, whinging and general grump when you deal with it, and that’s not just from the kids.
But there’s still hope! Homework can be fun, enjoyable and, yes, educational. How? Well, with some simple homework hacks!
If you’ve read the first 10 Seriously Helpful Homework Hacks and you’ve probably started to win the battle against homework angst, but you haven’t yet won the war. These 10 hacks should get you the rest of the way!
1. Tutors Can Help
Tutors are expensive, and we understand that. However, for some kids, a tutor can make all the difference when it comes to homework, particularly as kids reach late primary and middle school. Some local libraries offer free tutors, and some high school students also offer tutoring services at a much lower rate than ‘professional tutors. A tutor is worth considering if you work full time or you struggle to motivate your child to do their homework. Sometimes, a tutor can encourage a child in a way that a parent cannot, and kids may even be more open to learning from an older teen than from a parent.
2. Calendar It Up
Kids are not the most organised of people, but organisation is a skill that we learn through our lives, starting in childhood. Being more organised can help your child take more responsibility for their homework, and take some of the pressure off you. Do this by providing your child with their own calendar, or sticky note system, that allows them to organise the homework they have, the work that needs to be done, and the work that is finished. In this way, you not only relieve yourself from the effort of chasing up with your kids, but you’re also teaching them a valuable life and homework skill: advanced planning.
3. Make It A Game
We don’t tend to think of homework as being fun, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. All kids love to play, so it seems logical to work in making homework a game that your child can enjoy. You can challenge them to beat personal bests for finishing maths problems, or assign points and allow kids to ‘level up’ when they understand new concepts. You could even create quizzes and games for subjects like history that are fact based. The possibilities are endless, and with a little pre-planning on your end, your child could vastly improve.
4. Use Time Efficiently
If you think that homework needs to be done in a continuous block, and you try and hold your kids to this idea, you might be making things much harder for yourself then you need to. There’s a concept in learning circles called the Pomodoro Technique. Essentially, it’s a time management tool that creates more efficiency by structuring break time into work schedules. It works for adults and for kids, and you can make the most of it by assigning a period of ‘homework time’, generally 10-15 minutes for younger kids and 20-30 minutes for older kids, followed by a 5-10 minute break. This is done using a timer, and is named after the tomato-shaped timer its creator used when developing the method.
5. Follow The Teacher
When your children are being educated decades after you, it’s no surprise that things have changed in the world of education. As a parent, you might not understand or even agree with the methods or the curriculum that your child is learning, but that’s something to take up with the school board (or the government) not something to complain about in front of your child. When your child hears you bad mouthing their teacher or the subject matter, they end up seeing what they’re studying as being less important and therefore not worth spending time on.
6. Make Home A Learning Place
We get it, home should be a fun and relaxed environment, not one where your kids are constantly being drilled into studying and learning. But there are some ways you can make your home a learning place that’s also fun, particularly when you have small kids. For example, when your child is learning times tables, make a point to display a times table poster somewhere in the house where they’ll see it (like the back of the toilet door) and have lists of sight words around your home. When you’re looking for something to do, sing the times tables to help kids get them into their heads. The great thing about learning is that it isn’t just confined to school, so don’t let it be.
7. Reward Effort
Positive reinforcement, that is reward following a desired action, works so much better than punishment when kids do something wrong. Make it work for you by rewarding the efforts your children make when it comes to their homework. You can do this with material things, like a small toy, or with experiences, like getting to go to the movies after two weeks of completing assignments on time. Although food can also be a great reward, you want to be careful you aren’t adjusting kids to eat ‘sometimes foods’ every time they think they deserve it. This is a hard habit to break later in life.
8. Have Them Teach You
Do you know the best way to understand a topic is to teach it to someone else? No? Well, it’s true, and you can make this work for you and your kids. Have them teach you something that they’re learning in school, either by playing along that you aren’t familiar with it, or by saying you’ve forgotten it and want them to help you. Kids will love the idea that they’re smarter than mum and dad (just don’t encourage that too much) and in teaching you something, they’ll end up getting a much better grasp of it. You can do this with basically any subject, and make sure to ask lots of questions!
9. APPly Yourselves
When it comes to the core units of learning, you might be surprised at how many apps there are available to help kids learn. These apps take the effort out of making a game from homework, because experts have already come together and done it for you. From times tables to sight words, famous figures in history and even reading and spelling, there is pretty much an app for everything! Have a hunt around for the best apps on the market, remembering that paid apps are unlikely to have distracting ads. Just make sure they’re used under supervision, to avoid kids sneaking off to play Minecraft instead!
10. Bring Homework Into Life
Learning should be practical, but often even practical skills don’t seem that useful on paper. Well, you can help to avoid this by bringing the things your kids are learning in their homework to life. Most kids learn in units, so take a look at the units that they’re studying now and the ones on the horizon and think about how you can make them real. Addition and subtraction? Why not go to the supermarket and buy some fruit and vegetables! Weights and heights? Have your child weigh household items and help them understand density. There are so many ways to make homework seem real, and therefore more interesting, which is one of the easiest ways to help everyone get through it.
Well, there you have it. Ten more great homework hacks to help you and your family get through homework time unscathed. We hope with these tips, homework time doesn’t just become easier, it becomes downright enjoyable!