Simple Ways to Make Homework Fun
Traditionally, kids have regarded "homework" and "fun" as the most contradictory of terms. Homework is a thief of free time, an exercise in tedium, an excuse for parents and teachers to pile on impossible expectations and claim "someday you’ll thank us." Children don’t care about "someday". They want to enjoy themselves now.
Well, it may come as an all-around surprise, but homework and enjoyment don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Plan the Homework Schedule Together
First, understand there’s nothing unreasonable about a student, having just completed six hours in a classroom, wanting a break before doing any more work. Kids forced to always finish "homework before play" not only associate school with endless hard labor, they usually accomplish less—and with more difficulty—than students allowed unstructured leisure time after school.
That said, it’s an equally poor idea to just leave the kids to do homework "when I get around to it"—which usually means procrastination and rushing through at the last minute. Instead, let your kids pick one daily half-hour period when they’ll be most ready to work, and help them establish a daily routine to fit homework into that time slot. (Note: if an elementary-school child consistently needs more than thirty minutes to finish a day’s homework—despite starting fresh and motivated—take a serious look at any possible learning difficulties and at the school’s expectations.)
Have a Special Study Space
If you’ve ever added a personal touch to an office or cubicle, you know work is more enjoyable when its space includes a bit of unique you. So take your kid shopping for a special homework desk, and let him make a few arts and crafts to decorate it. Make sure seating and ambient temperature are comfortable; add a special pen or mouse pad to work with; and homework will take on fresh appeal.
Include a Special Post-Homework Activity in the Schedule
"Now you can go out and play" or "Now it’s time for bed" isn’t really a satisfactory way to end homework—at best, it reinforces the idea that assignments are just something to be gotten through on the way to something more enjoyable. The “enjoyable” will feel more an inherent part of the homework if you end each work period with a family game, a favorite snack, or an evening reading session—something that winds everything up with a sense of satisfaction.
Not hovering over the student offering unsolicited "help", but as a comforting background presence. Doing some “homework” of your own—committee notes, household chores, craft projects—is ideal. (Don’t, however, turn on a video file or do anything else to actually distract your young co-worker!)
A Note to Teachers
As the one who assigns the homework, you have special opportunity to make it enjoyable. A few tips:
- Include exercises for all skills: creative, literary, memorization, and mathematical.
- Don’t always give everyone the identical assignment. Help them modify work to suit individual tastes.
- Have daily class discussions to compare challenges and insights from the previous night’s assignments.
- If you yourself have been seeing homework as a necessary evil, start thinking of it as a fun opportunity—and watch your students’ attitudes change to match!