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As homework gets harder and technological distractions such as online videos, social networks and texting become even more appealing, the nightly homework battle has turned into a full-time war. !--break-->
Many parents dread doing homework just as much as their kids. One mom lamented, “I thought when I finished college I was done with doing homework, but boy was I wrong.”
Stacy, a single mom of 12-year-old Jackson dropped her head into her hands and moaned. “I hate studying for algebra, I really hate it. When Jackson has an algebra test, I swear I have to beg him to study.”
Upon hearing Stacy’s upset, one might wonder who’s homework actually needs to get done.
How can parents get their kids to study without having to nag them? Here are the tips that kids recommend for parents when they were asked this question:
1. Put together a family calendar.
17-year-old Michael Costigan strongly suggests putting together a family calendar. “You might want to invest in a whiteboard calendar that can be posted in the family room or kitchen. Better yet, if your kids are older, set up a Google calendar that all the family members can sync to with their phones and computers.”
This is especially important to avoid “Crunch Time.” Crunch time, sometimes known to families as “hell week,” “exam cram” or “overload,” is the horrible period in school where tests and assignments all seem to be due at the same time. It happens for most students at least two times per semester in addition to finals or midterms.
It is important for parents to be aware of crunch time and what happens for their kids during this stressful period, so that parents can prepare ahead of time without having last minute nagging.
2. Pick your battles and focus on the essentials.
Unfortunately, it seems that parents cannot win every battle, especially when they have a student who does not like school.
Cielo, a high school senior reminisces over her first four years: “When I was a freshman, I had no skills with time management; I didn’t mind being a mediocre C-student; I failed to study for imminent tests.”
She wishes her parents had helped her figure out what her priorities were at school. For example, if a child insists that listening to music is not a distraction, but a parent thinks it is, then strike a compromise. Find homework that takes less concentration and decide that the child can listen to music during this homework.
Helping children divide their homework into different categories will actually help them break it down into smaller, bite sized pieces.
3. Avoid distractions to stop procrastination.
When most kids get home from school they like to snack, check the Internet and maybe watch some TV. The problem with this routine is kids often cannot stop doing these activities to start homework.
In an article titled, “How to Fight Procrastination: Tips on Completing Homework” by 15-year-old Vivian from Miami, she writes: “After school I go online and check Facebook for awhile. Sometimes, even if I get home at 2:45, I don’t start my homework until very late at night.”
To avoid this problem, parents can encourage their kids to avoid doing homework in front of the computer and if it is needed for an assignment, try to make that the last one to do for the day. Vivian also suggests avoiding doing homework on too comfortable beds or couches.
4. Use virtual aids and games to make studying more appealing.
A major cause for procrastination is that kids do not enjoy doing their homework. While parents cannot make schoolwork more interesting, they can cut down on nagging and hand holding while studying by introducing virtual study aids and games.
There are some great websites like StudyShack.com that provide and test kids using virtual flashcards. Students can also try having virtual study sessions with friends on video chat.
Lastly, parents can help kids use sites like TeacherTube or FunBrain which has educational videos to watch and games to help explain and test on difficult concepts. These virtual tools are more exciting and interesting and will often encourage kids to work on their own without being nagged.
Overall, it is important for parents to give their kids the tools to properly study and get themselves motivated so that they can take a step back. This might mean that a child has to get low grades for a few tests, but when they realize that their parents will not swoop in and save them, they often learn they must stand on their own two feet.
Vanessa Van Petten, who has moved to Portland, wrote the parenting book “You’re Grounded!” at age 17. It received the Mom’s Choice Award in 2009. She also launched a popular parenting blog, RadicalParenting.com.