Routine: it’s a mum’s favourite word. Every afternoon, the same steps. It’s great though, right? If we didn’t have a set routine we’d forget to wash lunch boxes, refill water bottles, check notes folders and charge devices.
If our kids didn’t do their afternoon jobs, and we didn’t do ours, it would be chaos in the morning.
My kids are on top of the routine now, midway through the school year. They unpack their own bags and store them in our entry hall bag station. They put their lunchboxes on the bench. I’m saying that’s a win.
But we haven’t been winning at homework. Every afternoon it’s a struggle. The lack of enthusiasm is palpable. And then there’s the kids. At best, they drag themselves to the table. At worst, I drag them. Gently. Verbally.
Please don’t get me wrong, as a teacher-mum I absolutely love homework. I’ve seen deliberate, relevant homework help my kids advance academically.
It came to a head last week when I recognised my Friday Congratulations, you got through the week! glass of wine turned into a nightly Congratulations, you got through the homework! glass of wine.
I noticed a phrase had slipped into our routine somewhere this term.
“Right, you’re mucking around, time to do your homework!”
Okay, I’ve never expected my kids to come straight home from six hours of school and launch into a homework sesh straight away.
They usually have a snack, a play, and inevitably a fight, and then I get cranky and tell them if they’re misbehaving it must be time for homework.
I was essentially telling them that doing their homework was punishment for carrying on, when it’s actually just an expectation and part of our routine.
Once I became conscious of the negative connection I was making, I stopped. That was a week ago. And guess what? No complaints. No dragging (of any sort).
I also began dropping a few subtle and not-so-subtle homework hints. So from the time they get it the car I say a few “I can’t wait to see what you’ve got in your reading folder today”, or “Have you got something exciting to show me on your ipad that we can finish off?”. Just planting those seeds before we sit down to work has really helped.
Now after snacks, but before a devices/reading/ leisure, we all do homework. Yes, even the preschooler. She loves sitting up with her brothers at the dining table and drawing. I can only hope that enthusiasm is sustained into her school years.
What are your tips for getting your kids to do homework (peacefully)? We’d love to hear what works in different homes, and for different stages.