As adults, we often think of homework as a bad thing; tasks we are required to do after school that take precious free time away from our home life. But for kids, that's not the case! Starting in pre-K, kids are taught that homework can be fun, and it seems like the processes that adults find daunting are seen as play for little kids. So how do we capture that interest, spark and joy that our littlest students come home with, and keep it for as long as possible into our children's elementary and even teen years? Let's make homework fun again!
Designate a homework workspace for each student. This can be an area at the kitchen table, a spot in your home office or their own lap desk. It's not always possible to have a dedicated space for work 24/7, so it's perfectly fine to have a desk caddy with the tools your student needs ready to go when homework time comes.
Calming jazz, symphonies or upbeat rhythms can do a lot for productivity. Lyrics can often get in the way of certain types of homework, so it's best to consider the type of work before selecting. Spotify and Pandora have a lot of free options for listening while working.
As kids get older, homework can become more and more intense. Make sure to build in check-ins and breaks to make sure they're giving their eyes and brains a rest. Perhaps a snack, drink or short dance party is just the thing to refresh them for the rest of their work.
Color and light are important to a workspace. If your child's favorite color is green, snag some green contact paper or construction paper and put it on their workspace. Make sure the space is well-lit as well, because squinting is no good for homework effectiveness.
Colorful pens, paper, pencils and other tools make doing homework more fun. These can even be a reward themselves, as getting to head to the dollar store or shop online for desk accessories can be just as fun as using them.
When you're working with your student, give them your full attention. Put away your work, your cell phone and other distractions while you help them prepare for some dedicated homework time. If you have to make dinner or get back to work, make sure to at least bookend the time with a few minutes before and after the homework period, which shows you're invested in their success.
Homework often requires a bit of communication with your child's teacher in order to squeeze the full learning out of it. There may be parts of a lesson that your child doesn't understand, in which case it's a good idea to make sure you communicate with teachers so you can assist where needed.
It can be hard to teach kids to filter out distractions and get to work, but sometimes a reward can help get them there. Maybe it's dinner at a restaurant they've been wanting to visit, "points" toward a new toy or even something as simple as an extra book at bedtime. Find what motivates your student, and let that motivate them toward homework success!
The best way to learn is to teach, so once your student completes their task, have him or her explain it to you. Let them tell you how he or she thought about the problem, how they came up with the solution and how they got there. That act of explaining will cement those learnings in their mind.
The key here is that if tasks ever become too challenging for your student, stay positive. Don't bring up thoughts of your own childhood; rather, move on to something else and come back to that challenge later. Remind them that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to learning. and if everything was easy for us, it wouldn't be fun at all.
READ THIS NEXT: 11 Painfully Hilarious Homework Tweets from Parents