Kids love to play, there’s no doubt about it. If you ask any K-5th grader what their favorite subject is, many of them will respond with “lunch” or “recess.” When it comes to asking about math and reading, their faces wrinkle in more disgust than when spinach is served for dinner. The ultimate struggle of a mom with an elementary school child is how to make them enjoy schoolwork as much as they enjoy playing with their friends. For some, it comes easy, and for others not so much. If your kid is having a hard time with homework motivation, we’ve got some tips for you.
#1 Incentivize it
The ultimate bribe for kids is a prize. Tell them that if they sit down and read for 30 minutes, they’ll get 30 minutes of play time. If they do their science homework without complaining, they can have an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert. Even a sheet of star-shaped stickers is sometimes effective. Make sure not to get too excessive with the gifts so that your child doesn’t learn to expect it, but giving them in moderation and variety can be successful.
#2 Create a substitute for Chores
If you give your child odd jobs to do around the house, schoolwork can be used as a disguised chore. For example, if your son or daughter is supposed to clean their room three times a week, have them clean it only twice instead as long as all their school work is done. They’ll see this as a prize and will be motivated to get the job done.
The concept of gamification has blown up in the media lately, and it’s not a bad idea to apply this to your parenting techniques. Incorporate game characteristics into your child’s homework schedule and they’ll treat it like they do any game. You can give them points for completing homework or reading extra, and maybe reward those points once a month. If you have multiple children, create some healthy competition between them of who can do the most work or something of the sort.
#4 Explain the purpose
If your child is in the younger stages of development, this may not work. But if they’re fourth grade or beyond, you can try and sit down with them to explain to them the purpose of school. Tell them stories of your past school experiences and maybe the consequences of not being responsible.
#5 Group work
Kids love being with their friends. Call up a few moms and get a group of your kids together for homework time. They’ll be able to socialize while they work, and they won’t feel like they’re being forced to do work. Let them take breaks every so often to play a game or relax a little, but overall combining playdates with school work is definitely a great idea.
It can be hard to show your child the value of hard work and how far it can get them in life, but the key to turning them into hard workers is to start early. If they learn early on the importance, they will keep this value with them into middle school, high school, and higher education.