Homework. Who does it frustrate more—the student or the parents? While the younger elementary years required a parent’s close guidance with homework tasks and schedules, tweens can begin taking on more personal responsibility for their school assignments. Here are some tips for motivating your tween to be proactive about tackling her homework.
Give her time. Today many families jam-pack the calendar with after-school activities, making it difficult to find adequate time for homework. Take a close look at your family agenda and determine how and when you can set aside consistent quiet time in your child’s schedule for school assignments—even if it means cutting back on some “fun” pursuits. Ultimately, the entire family will be happier if homework is not a constant headache.
Provide space. Designate a special desk area or table where your tween can focus on completing her homework each day. Make sure it’s not cluttered with non-school-related junk, like family bills or siblings’ toys, and consider decorating the space according to your daughter’s favorite colors or style. Better yet, get her involved in setting up this homework area with furniture or décor of her choice. If she takes ownership in the space, she’ll be more likely to use it.
Stock sweet tools. Does your daughter have a favorite pen or marker set? Buy it for her. Is she crazy about colored paper clips or fancy file folders? Keep them supplied at her homework station. Whatever small tools you can provide to motivate her to get to work are worth it for the payoff of a homework-motivated child.
Reward her progress. Devise a system for rewarding your tween for completing assignments or earning good grades. These can be immediate gratification rewards such as a half-hour of screen time for finishing the day’s assignments, or a longer-term motivator such as earning points toward a new bike or clothes shopping. If appropriate, also reward her for doing her homework without you having to remind her twelve times a night.
Encourage her. Praise goes a long way toward shoring up a tween’s heart. So speak up when you notice her making good choices and being proactive with her schoolwork. Tell her you’re proud of her behavior and remind her that it honors God. After all, she is working for Him and not for human masters (Colossians 3:23).
Ultimately the greatest reward for growing responsible about homework—or anything in life—is the result of becoming more like Jesus. Now that is something worth working toward every day of the school year and beyond!