Earlier this year I mentioned to Max’s teacher (the amazing Mrs B) that I wasn’t fond of homework and she seemed to be under the false impression that older primary school kids are completely independent when doing their homework. Oh how I laughed. I mean, Max probably wouldn’t bother to dress himself if it wasn’t expected. Actually, lots of times he still doesn’t bother.
I’ve spent years trying to make homework fun and then I’ve thought many times about becoming a conscientious objector (Justin Coulson is the master – click through to read the letter he sends to his girls’ school each year, and note the cute kid eating the word ‘blog’ at the top. Recognise her?). But the thing is: I can see the benefit. Not to grades or even intellect; but to developing personal discipline. I think it’s good for kids to take responsibility for getting the job done and face the consequences when they don’t. Homework may be boring and unnecessary, but it’s expected and that ought to be enough of an incentive to do the best job possible. It’s a good grounding for work life, and life in general.
So, the title of this post is a little misleading, because homework is never really ‘fun’. Homework just is. Over the years, though, we’ve found ways to make homework as beneficial as possible, and that’s surely, kinda, sorta fun… ish. Actually, these three tips are really about cutting out the whinging and whining and making homework fun for me. And hopefully for you too.
3 ways to make homework more fun (for you)
1. Have a schedule
Just as the kids’ extra-curricular activities start and end at a set time, so does their homework time. We’ve added three lots of homework time to their schedule each week – half an hour each time. Sometimes they might get the whole lot done in the first homework block, which means they get to play during the other two homework blocks. Having particular times dedicated to homework generally stops me from having to nag about homework and the kids from whinging that they have to do it.
2. Make a plan and some time
The first 10 minutes of the Monday homework block is for the kids to plan out the rest of the week – what they’ll complete during each homework time. I am available to help each kid exclusively once a week, giving them my complete attention to work through anything they’ve stumbled on. I will never be the kind of mum who does the homework for my kid (honestly, what’s the point of that? The teachers aren’t fooled so no brownie points for you!), but I definitely believe in being there to guide them through it.
The best thing about these plans is that the kids actually look forward to doing their homework one-on-one with their devoted, selfless mother (that’s me, just in case it wasn’t clear right away). And, oddly, though I’m forced to do homework myself three times a week, I look forward to it too.
3. Substitute the really shit stuff
Sometimes the set homework is so mind-numbingly boring that we simply decide not to do it. With a twist. The twist is, the kids have to complete a similar project of their own choosing and hand that in instead. Many times you don’t have to completely reinvent the project, rather just substitute something more fun instead. Powerpoint presentations always get Max over the line (he is a PP fiend) – so rather than ‘draw a poster’, he’ll create a presentation. Cappers is the exact opposite: if it’s a direction to write her times tables out 10 x, she’d rather create a visual poster of the times tables and hand that in.
5 thoughts on: homework
- Kidspot: 10 tips to get the homework done (written by the devoted, selfless Maxabella)
- New York Times: The trouble with homework
- News: Why parents should stop helping their kids with their homework
- Teacher Magazine: Does homework contribute to student success?
- Huff Post: Is this the best homework ever?
Are you for or against homework? (And does it really matter what we think anyway?)