Parents and their kids can engage in big battles when it comes to homework completion, causing parents to wonder what strategies to use to get their kids to finish the assigned schoolwork.   Both parties can become frustrated and angry, and things can get out of hand rather quickly.  There is a simple strategic plan that can reduce the hostile environment that might ensue.

Time Limit for Homework

Set a time limit for various assignments.     Limit the amount of time they spend on each assigned.  Have kids work on the hardest subject first while their mind is fresher.  Direct them to work on it for 15-20 minutes; then move on to the next subject.  Continue with this time limit until each subject of homework has been studied.  Time limit can also be used to break up study time with small breaks. 

Environment Should be Friendly

Where kids study makes a difference.  Some kids need a quiet atmosphere to concentrate on their work; while others need background noise to help them concentrate.  The area should provide adequate lighting and comfortable seating.  Disruptions should be removed.  Family chaos can be an obstacle to a homework friendly environment.  A favorable environment will help kids be more efficient in home work completion. 

Rewards can Provide Incentive

Using rewards is controversial.  Many people believe rewards are simply bribing kids to do something.   However, when rewards are used correctly, they do no bribe kids; they teach them how to earn something.  Rewards do not have to be monetary in nature.  Praise, positive feedback or special privileges are good ways of rewarding kids for making a positive choice.  Using rewards correctly teach kids positive consequences for compliant behavior.  The most effective rewards are natural consequences. 

For example, completing homework can equate to better grades which in turn can lead to college admission.  Kids in general perform better with instant gratification rather than delayed gratification.  Rewarding homework completion can use both elements.

Rewards must be tied to something that will motivate the kids.  It is important for parents to be consistent and expectations of the kids to be clear.  If kids do not meet the expectations, the reward should not be given.

Make Homework Fun

Making homework fun is often overlooked; yet, it is easy to accomplish.  For example, if kids have a special interest in something such as sports; relate the homework to that interest.  Kids often know statistics of their favorite sports hero so that can be used to help them study math. 

Help them enjoy reading by using different voices for different characters or asking them to discuss a short story about something that is of interest to them.  Have them read an article in their favorite magazine; or write a story about their favorite television or movie character.

When parents use their creativity to help homework more enjoyable for their kids it also gives them the opportunity to spend time with their kids.  It can help strengthen a relationship.  Understanding how their kids learn most efficiently will aid in coming up with creative learning idea. For example, most kids learn best through visual means so making homework as visually interesting as possible can be beneficial. 

Set a Routine for Homework

The final strategy for parents to ensure homework completion from their kids is setting a routine.  Most kids perform better when they have a routine.  This may entail setting a specific time and location for working on school work. It is important to keep to the routine as much as possible.  Inevitably events will happen that interfere with a kid’s homework routine.  Whenever possible, this should be kept to a minimum and alternative plans should be made immediately.

Homework Completion; Photo by: Anthony Kelly, Source: flickrCredit: Photo by: Anthony Kelly, Source: flickr

Simplicity is the Key to a Homework Completion Plan

The most important element in any strategy is to be patient and to be consistent.  The strategies outlined in this article spell out a simple word that will help parents remember this plan.   It is a simple word to remember:                                      

  1. (T)ime limit
  2. (E)nvironment friendly
  3. (R)eward
  4. (M)ake it fun
  5.  (S)et a routine

 Come to T.E.R.M.S with homework.  This strategy can help reduce family stress and can help parents build a healthier relationship with their kids.



The copyright of the article Strategies to Get Kids to Complete Their Homework is owned by Cheryl Weldon, MA, LMFT and permission to republish in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.