7 Ways to Help Make Homework Fun
We can't help but think just how fast our kids are growing up. From the time our kids were born; to when we were watching every developmental milestone; to the time that our kids who shove their school bags away to hide the fact that they have homework to do. Kids have these crazy antics that we can't help but laugh at, but let's stick to reality. Kids will only do something if it's fun including school and homework.
At some point, we kind of understand because there were some days (most of them often) where we dreaded doing homework. We always come up with the excuse that we bust our behinds to school the whole day and question why we have to bring homework. For almost every school kid, we hate doing homework and our kids hate it too. Sometimes, we end up admiring some of our friend's kids who happen to absolutely don't mind and even love doing their fun homework.
So, mommies and daddies, if you're really having a hard time making your child do homework faster, then maybe this small talk we're going to have can help you out. Believe us when we say that we have tried absolutely everything to make our kids do homework—even impose punishments if they can't comply. But we figured things out when dealing with our own kids here at ParentsNeed HQ.
Before we start getting to the fun part, let's set the environment first. It's been shown that a good working environment prepares a child for better learning and encouragement in learning. So, start by making a comfortable working area for your kids.
• Make the room breathable
A good well-ventilated area is really ideal for kids to learn. You may not realize it but a room that has good air filling in the room makes it feel less stuffy and much easier to work with. The thing is, when the brain is being challenged by doing homework easier and faster, it needs oxygen to power it up. A room that is completely sealed will make the room feel tiresome and even nauseating.
• Do some meditation
Let your child relax first. Once they get home from school, they're bound to be tired. So, don't force them to make homework immediately after school. Let them have a snack and sit down a little bit. It's better not to let them play first since they will get tired after playing and it will be impossible for them to start doing homework. Let them sit and relax like probably helping you pop some popcorn in the popcorn popper to prepare for a fun homework time.
• Set the timer
Set a time exclusively for homework like every 5 pm before dinner. This will give your kids the mindsetting that they must always prepare to make homework at that time.
• Keep off the distractions
Time off the digital world is a must. You have to assert your authority over your kids—especially your teens—when it's time to do homework. Your kids shouldn't have any access to their games and social media while working on their homework. Let them work in a clear open space to keep the distractions away.
• Snack time for a good time
A healthy snack can help them work on their stuff. It also applies to adults because as we sit at work and do some work that requires a lot of our mental abilities, we often look for something to grab and chew on from time to time. If fruits are not available, you can simply slice up a quick sandwich using your all-around meat slicer.
• Feel good with music
This may not apply to all kids since music can become a distraction but if your child is an auditory learner (we will talk about this later), music is definitely a good way to go. But, you have to make your child listen to instrumentals. Popular songs with catchy lyrics are very distracting and will end up being counter-productive.
• Entice the nose
You've already satisfied their tummies and their ears, but did you know that also satisfying the nose is highly recommended for a great working environment? It's true. But certain scents can make children feel drowsy. If you are using an essential oil diffuser, you may want to choose an essential oil mix that encourages the brain to stay alert. If you don't have a diffuser, you can simply grind some coffee beans using your coffee grinder. Put a tablespoon on a small platter or a small bowl and leave it on your child's desk. The scent of coffee beans is relaxing but also helps make the brain feel alert. Well, duh! It is a good source of caffeine after all!
Once you've set a great environment, know what kind of learner your child is. You have to know in what way your child learns best. Here are the common types of learners:
- Visual. It simply means that your child learns better by seeing it through images, drawings or any visual interpretation. They are keen on looking at pictures than words or hearing their teachers speak. You'll notice your child loves looking at picture books. Once you read a book to your child, they pay more attention to the pictures than the story itself. For them, to see is to believe.
- Auditory. An auditory learner learns well when they hear it. They lean towards hearing something interesting and focus on it. The thing about auditory learners is that they have to hear it well and have their attention caught by something interesting like rhymes, funny jokes, or catchy phrases. When reading a story, they love hearing you making voice changes for certain characters and certain animal sounds. For them, to hear is to believe.
- Kinesthetic. This is a type of learner that requires the actual body to learn. Your child needs to do something to learn exactly what it is. Kids who are kinesthetic learners are pretty curious into touching and poking stuff, licking or tasting odd things, smelling certain stuff and literary micro-examining an object or even a certain situation. For them, to feel is to believe.
- Literary. This is more known as the reading/writing learner. Originally put under visual learners, they are more focused on actual writing. If you give your child a book to read, they will remember a certain phrase and what position the certain phrase was written in a book. You'll hear your child say, 'It's written in small red letters' or 'It was underlined at the bottom page of that book'. Your child would also prefer taking down a lot of notes because they remember it better that way. For them, to read is to believe.
Interesting facts, right? Well, knowing what kind of learner your child is will give you an idea of what to do or how to make homework fun. And believe us when we say that you should be involved in the first few years until your child hits off to the latter parts of their primary school years. In the first few years of school, you need to be hands on with your child. Set this as a promising parenting principle that will teach your child discipline especially when it comes to studies.
1. I Play Teacher, You Play Student!
When you sit down with your child to do fun homework together, chances are you've already forgotten what certain lessons were. So, instead of having a hard time trying to figure things out (which would sometimes make your feel dumb in front of your child), grab a whiteboard and a set of colorful erasable markers and ask your child to be the teacher. Let your little one teach you the lesson as they remember it and you will also get to remember what certain words are. This will also encourage your child to remember certain lessons and end up answering questions easily.
When it comes to math and your child still can't figure it out, grab some of the stuffed animals and let them sit down in front of the whiteboard. Get your child to teach the stuffed animals how it's done and you stand as the teacher's assistant. When a math problem becomes increasingly difficult, take the reign and teach alongside your child. This is particularly helpful for kinesthetic learners. For visual learners, put images instead of numbers. And for auditory learners, use numbers that rhyme (like seven and eleven, thirty-three and ninety) and add them together.
2. The Food Ranger
Since food is already on the table, use it to your advantage. One of the things we love about being stay-at-home parents is that we can really put a lot of our attention to our kids even when it comes to homework. You need to make homework easy or feel easy. But if you're a busy parent who is trying to balance work and family, simple things can make a big difference and it won't require much of your already exhausted energy. When your body is tired, you don't have much energy to help your child do her boring homework, so use food to do the teaching.
Food is colorful, plenty and engaging. Use it in role playing. You can even use it for math, grab ten popcorns, let your kid eat three and ask what's left. You can be creative in doing other stunts especially when it comes to other subjects like science. Make a popcorn man and have your child point out the different parts of the body. This is great for kinesthetic, visual and auditory learners.
3. The Star Award Goes To...
Rewards are one of the best ways to encourage your child to make homework fun or at least feel like it is. There is a twist here though. Your child only gets a star once the homework is done and by means of done... done well. Some children do homework for compliance’s sake and you really need to check their homework. This is the time where you tell your child to finish math homework and then your child gets a star. Don't ever let your child leave homework hanging.
One aspect of the star awards is the visual celebration your child gets when making homework. Put a rewards board on the wall right in front of the desk and fill it up with different colored stars or stickers. This is a great way of motivating your child to do homework. The more colorful and fun the stickers are, the more you can use them to help guide your child in certain situations. Like for example, when your child gets stuck in math, let him use the stickers as the numerical values. Ask him to count how many stars they get in a week and let them multiply by asking them how much they will get in a month if they always get the same number of stars every day. Again, this targets different learner types making it very easy to both encourage and be part of doing homework together.
4. It's More Fun with Games
Like any sport, we need to warm-up before hitting the basketball hoops or the soccer field or the balance beam or whatever sport it may be. It is super fun to get your children to play brain games before making fun homework. Some kids hate playing chess but using the pawns and horses and other chess pieces as your role playing characters can be fun. Lay out some numbers on the chess board and see how much in total the horse (knight) can eat.
You can also let your child play with sudoku or even brain teasers. One thing we love doing are tongue twisters. It's also fun to use alphabet puzzles or Go Fish. Your child will also enjoy simple word games like the Last Letter Game.
5. Ticket, Ticket, Ticket, Prize!!!
This is also an award based idea but this doesn't have a star board or a collection of stickers. If your child is not amused by any of those star awards especially for middle schoolers, it's about time to advance to a newer level of rewards. You can easily print out tickets or even use pieces of colorful paper pieces from your paper shredder. Every time your child finishes their homework, give him a ticket; and every time they get an A+ for their homework, they get a special ticket—probably a different colored one. By the end of the month or every after a semester, get your child to collect all their tickets. Once they collect a certain number tickets, match it with a toy that they've been wanting so bad like a hoverboard, an RC helicopter, a foosball table.
Make sure that you already set a certain number of tickets for a certain prize--like they do in arcades giving out an eraser for 10 tickets or a huge expensive toy for 1000 tickets. If they don't have enough tickets, you can let your child choose to exchange it for a smaller toy like any simple Christmas toy on their wish list or let them collect some more tickets. The special ticket is equivalent to two or three ordinary tickets—whichever you prefer. This is an awesome way to encourage your child to do homework and it's really effective as far as we have tried it. Sometimes, the reward is even an extended digital time where they get to keep their gadget for one day.
6. Stop! Play! And Homework!
Let's admit that there are days when your kid is packed with a lot of boring homework. And letting them throughout is exhausting them physically and mentally. After each home work, let your child run about and do something fun for 20 minutes before hitting the homework desk. This will help pump blood back into the brain and also help your child get a breather. This is particularly helpful for kinesthetic learners since they need their body to stretch out and be active before they do something dull and boring again like homework.
7. Let Me be the Superhero
One thing that children love is attention. Sometimes, we get too busy with house chores that we can't find time to check in on our kids as they do their homework. You can let your hubby do it too to encourage paternal bonding but if he's also busy, let an army of toys do the live streaming. Put toys with faces in front of your child and tell your kid that they are cheering him on as he does his homework—that's how to make homework easy, fun, and even faster. You may not believe it at first but it actually works. Their small creative imaginative minds let them put themselves on a pedestal with an audience and if he does well, he gets a reward of acclaim. This is a simple yet effective trick but not when they hit middle school. They kind of become more realistic and overly negative about it when you do that.
The thing about homework is that it is simply boring and tiring like a constant reminder of what kids dread about school. But making homework fun and enjoyable is an added kick for your child to also enjoy school or see school enjoyable. With a little bit of time and effort, you will end up instilling in your child the love for studying even without you knowing it. You only need to be creative and be stern yet responsive with your kids. Happy making homework!