Editor's note: This blog post was originally published on December 26, 2013.
Homework, in general, isn't always so much fun for our kids. I know I should mention its purpose and importance, but as a parent (taking off any of my educator hats, of course) it's not my favorite thing to enforce. And, I'm quite certain if my son was forced to eat ice cream for homework, he wouldn't enjoy it—as making any activities mandatory strips much of the joy from them.
But joy or no joy, homework certainly needs to be done. Speaking to reading homework specifically, using the age old "do it or else" philosophy about it, makes my kids feel reading isn't any fun. As a literacy advocate for over ten years, this is an attitude I've worked very hard to avoid.
Since homework is a daily thing, here are six strategies I developed to help my kids get their reading homework done without a struggle—and enjoy it too.
1. Stick to a routine.
A clear routine is a great starting point for argument-free homework time. If your child always reads at 3:30, then he or she knows what to expect. Consider all of your child's other obligations, after-school sports, and extracurricular activities before trying to cement a routine.
2. Fuel up to learn.
Kids that eat a good breakfast have been shown to learn better, and it stands to reason that kids who are hungry after school will be focused on their grumbling tummies instead of the words on the page. Have snacks easily accessible or ready on the table to eat after school so that homework time isn't interrupted by hungry bellies.
3. Provide new material.
If your child's reading material isn't engaging, switch it up! If the material is required, ask your child's teacher if you can try something else or trade off your child's choice one night for the required material the next. See the post, Help Kids to P.I.C.K. the Right Books.
4. Allow kids to work in new environments.
Is your child's desk the only place he can tackle reading homework? No way! Your child doesn't need to write, so ditch the desk from time to time. Try the living room, a big bed, or even outside! Switching up where your child is doing the work can make a huge difference in how enjoyable it is. You can even make a reading nook or blanket fort for your child to read in.
5. Divide and conquer.
Who said you have to do all the homework at once? Splitting it up into two or more parts can make it much more manageable for families with busy schedules and kids who have a tendency to get overwhelmed.
6. Praise…and maybe even a little reward!
I don't applaud the simple completion of homework if the amount is reasonable; however, I do applaud and reward great attitudes while doing it. I often and honestly praise my kids for finishing their work. But I only reward them when recognizing a longer period of good effort. Maybe it's a hot chocolate after school on Friday, an extra 10 minutes of staying up one night, or getting to choose the movie for our next family movie night. It doesn't have to be big, but recognizing your child's efforts in keeping a good attitude about homework will go a long way toward maintaining that attitude.
I know there are more tips out there! Share your happy homework tips with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.
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Check out bloggers Amy Mascott and Allie McDonald's book, Raising a Rock-Star Reader: 75 Quick Tips for Helping Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love for Reading. Get expert advice and learn new strategies for your young readers.