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8 Ways to get kids to do homework without complaining

I am a child and school psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.

How to help your kids get into a successful homework routine

Now that it's September, it's time to acclimate to the change in routine school brings. Morning routines begin earlier, lunches have to be packed, after-school activities and pickups abound and homework resumes. Many parents struggle with getting back into the swing of things when it comes to homework. Rightly so, as homework isn't always a favorite activity for children — or parents.

8 Tips to transition into a school routine

  1. Review the schedule for the week.
  2. Decide how you would like the afternoons to look when the children return home from school or after-school activities. You may want to coordinate with your spouse and/or caregivers to ensure that everyone provides input and stays on the same page.
  3. Create a schedule with the routine clearly stated.
  4. Feel free to put visuals or pictures next to each line item on the schedule. Visual reminders are powerful, especially when starting or re-starting a routine.
  5. Start small.
  6. Small initial goals increase the likelihood of success. Help your kids ease back into this routine. If you ultimately want them to have a snack, walk the dog, read for 15 minutes, complete math, spelling, science and write in a journal, you may want to start with snack, walk the dog and read. Gradually add other tasks.
  7. Review with your children prior to starting the schedule.
  8. Give them the chance to ask questions, provide input and get used to how it is supposed to go.
  9. Reward positive behavior and following the schedule.
  10. You don't need to provide pricey or time-consuming rewards. Celebrate with an extra five minutes on the iPad, a scoop of ice cream, an extra bedtime story or even a quick game of their choice. Focus on the quality of time instead of the quantity of money spent!
  11. Adjust, tweak and edit over the course of school year.
  12. Things change from September through June, so it is important to update as necessary. Typically, parents can update once per academic quarter as that is a very organic time to do so.
  13. Be mindful of distractions.
  14. Tasks requiring sustained attention require a distraction-free zone. Turn off the television, silence cell phones and let out the dog if he is prone to bark or provide a cute furry distracting face. It helps if all children in the household are on similar schedules, so they motivate one another to stay on track.
  15. Lastly, pat yourself on the back.
  16. Putting something like this transition plan into place will benefit your whole family. Success may start small and be gradual. Any kind of success is worth celebrating! Have a wonderful school year!

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