In this 11th installment of Homework Problems & Solutions we take a look at strategies to motivate your child to complete homework assignments successfully.
You can find arguments for and against each method. I believe neither is correct – it is really what works with your child.
When talking with your child about how to go about motivating them to overcome their homework problem, it is important to first review/talk about the problem. Make sure you both are on the same page when it comes to understanding exactly what the homework problem is.
Once you have established the problem, it is then time to talk about what if anything you can do to help motivate them.
Be careful here for it could be a nasty trap for you.
Try to lay some ground work by first talking about how you are there to help and provide guidance (i.e. you are there to ensure they stay on track and follow any plan agreed upon). Try to avoid any actual rewards or punishments – rather talk about how, with your guidance and their commitment, the problem could be resolved without resorting to either.
Talk about what specific expectations you have and try to resolve that neither punishment nor rewards will be used. If you cannot get to this point, then determine with your child what method would help them the best.
The contract should clearly indicate the expectations and rewards/consequences.
When it is signed off – post it – as a constant reminder of what everyone’s obligations are.
A good contract should indicate:
- Scheduled time & place
- Elimination of all distractions
- Getting homework to and from school
- Quality, quantity and neatness
- Attitude – no whining, no procrastination, no forgetting, no relying on parents to do the homework
- Preparedness – have all materials, books, pens, etc. required to complete the assignments properly.
- Rewards/ consequences – if any were decided upon
This method also provides immediate feedback to the parent on whether the child is responsibly fulfilling his obligations on a nightly basis.
Final notes on rewards and consequences:
– Specific praise is a powerful reward (e.g.: “Hey! I am glad to see you remembered to put your backpack by the door!”) – also praise your child in front of others – it is a great tonic.
– Rewards need not be elaborate (e.g.: having a friend over for a pajama party).
– Natural consequences are good (e.g.: let child face a poor grade for homework incomplete).
– If you must give a consequence make it immediate – long lasting consequences have little effect over time – avoid too hash a consequence – focus on the positive.
In our 12th and final installment of Homework Problems & Solutions, we will summarize the key points outlined in this series.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.