Shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone…but…homework can be FUN!

I’m serious. Some of the best times I’ve spent with my boys have been when we were doing homework. There’s no doubt about it, homework has monopolized our lives most nights and weekends between August and June for the last 12 years. There have been times when we’ve all wanted to throw the textbooks out the window, and not every moment has been joyful. But as with most challenges, attitude can make all the difference.

Research shows that when adults enjoy their work, they are more motivated and successful. That’s true for kids, too. If they can find some fun in their work, they’ll be more likely to do it well and value the accompanying success they experience at school. Making homework at least mildly enjoyable has required major parenting effort, but it’s also been an opportunity for my husband and me to teach work ethic, spend quality time with our children, and actually create some great memories!

 Some of our successful strategies include:

 *Sit nearby and do “adult homework,” (reading, paying bills, etc.). Just being close provides opportunities for conversation about the homework, how the day went, etc.

*Study for 15 minutes several days in a row instead of an hour the night before a test, to improve retention (both parents’ and kids’!). Cracking jokes about the subject matter or asking the kid to fill in the details “between the lines” sparks conversation and interest.

*Instead of parents trying to make sense of notes they don’t understand (Whoa…chemistry! How can I possibly quiz you over this?), the kid can explain notes or procedures to the parent. If the parent notices a significant level of struggling, it’s time to contact the teacher and make an appointment for more help.

*Make up silly rhymes, stories or mental pictures to connect pieces of information, or use the first letter of each word in a grouping to make a nonsense word or sentence. (For example: My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizza pies = the planets, in order.)

*Playing “memory” with flash cards is a whole lot more fun than just “doing flash cards.”

*Taking turns reading pages of textbooks, stopping periodically to discuss what we’ve read, has gotten us through many a tired hour, and lots of boring material is more interesting when read aloud (and, occasionally, made fun of). 

Life comes at ya fast, as the commercial goes, and one of the chief complaints parents and kids have is that they don’t have enough time to be together. It’s easy to overlook homework as an opportunity for connection, so when I consider all those hours our kids could have spent doing THEIR homework alone, I believe we’re better as a family for having made it a team effort. Now when the answer to, What do you need help with? is, “Nothing,” I’m a little bummed. Who’d have ever thought I’d miss doing homework?