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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

(Editor’s note: please welcome Alvina with a guest post that offers practical strategies for helping kids do homework peacefully. Thanks, Alvina!)

Every parent who has school-aged children has had, at one point or another during their parenting careers, to struggle with homework issues. Of course, it completely makes sense that children, who have already spent several hours in a class or school setting, are averse to doing more school work when the day is done. While you can’t quite blame them for this allergy to homework, it’s an important part of their education. Not only does it further develop and apply ideas learned in class, but homework also instills a good work ethic. Here are a few tips I’ve personally tried for winning the homework wars without resorting to pleas, candy, or money.

1. Be persuasive; describe to your kids in detail all the fun they can have after they finish, and don’t allow your child to do anything (excepting maybe a short break after returning home) until it’s all done.
Kids aren’t ever going to enthusiastically want to do homework, especially if they are the types that don’t see the point. As such, be sure to emphasize (without threatening, shouting, or pleading) how wonderful it’ll be once they’ve finished everything. This helps to curtail homework dragging feet, or the “I’ll finish it later” syndrome.

2. Provide the necessary structure, both in terms of time and place.
Although it’s up to kids to do their homework, it’s up to you to provide them with an environment in which they can do their work successfully. Set up an after-school schedule, provide a table and chair in a quiet and pleasant environment, and don’t ever let kids do homework in bed or any other area of the house that’s typically used for something else other than studying.

3. Offer to help but never overdo it. Learn how your child learns so you can discern when they can do it by themselves.
Many kids are averse to doing their homework when they’re stumped. As such, you should certainly offer to help, but keep the aid to a minimum and make it constructive. Ask questions and give hints; never do an assignment for a child, whether in whole or in part. Becoming keenly attuned to how your child learns and what her strengths and weaknesses are is very important in figuring out when your child can fly solo, which is the ultimate parenting goal, both in terms of homework and in life in general.

4. Use praise instead of material rewards.
One of the worst parenting practices I’ve ever heard is the act of bribing children to do well in school or to do their homework. While every parent is different, and I respect their choices, there’s something a little disingenuous about paying children to do something that’s their responsibility in the first place. One of the most important things that we can teach kids is responsibility, which in a nutshell means doing things because you must, not because there’s a carrot attached at the end of it. Still, rewarding kids for a job well done is extremely important in developing good self-esteem and nurturing your relationship with them. So instead of money or candy or an evening at the movies, remember to praise your child often, especially when she does the right thing. You’d be surprised by how much more effective verbal praise is compared to material rewards.

These are just a few ways to turn the tide in your evening homework battles. Once your kids realize that it doesn’t have to be a conflict-filled time, and once they realize its importance as indicated by what you say and do, homework will be a regular part of the routine.

Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com.

Photo provided courtesy of katerha via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.