I started on my homework
but my pen ran out of ink.
My hamster ate my homework.
My computer's on the blink.
Most kids would identify with these lines about homework, from the poem 'My Excuses' by Arielle Perkins. After working hard all day at school, children wonder why they have to repeat Math, History, and all those things they'd so happily left behind in their classrooms. The child might have a point there, but some realities of life are not fun but have to be faced anyway and homework happens to be one of them. So, what can be done to make this reality a little less cumbersome for the little ones?
Create a study nook
In the child's room, create a cozy study space. Decorate a tiny nook allowing the child to chose the table, curios, stationary supplies, and the color or wallpaper for the study wall. Put up a cork board where the child can pin up their art work and 'to-do' lists. Make sure the chair is comfortable and the table has enough space for the child to work comfortably on. Ensure the room is well-ventilated and bright. The idea is to make the child feel a strong sense of ownership toward that study space. Sitting at the table to study should be something they enjoy doing.
Ensure silence in the house
While homework is in progress, make sure there is complete silence in the house. If there is a TV blaring in the other room, it is going to be a major distraction for the child.
Set a time
Set aside a time slot as the designated 'homework time'. After returning from school, once the child has cleaned up, had a snack, and relaxed a bit - maybe in an hour or so - make that the homework time. Once the child is used to this routine, they will themselves head toward their room to finish off the work. It needs to be reiterated to the child that once the homework is done for the day, they will have the rest of the evening to themselves - to go out and play, watch TV, or do some leisure reading. This will motivate them further to finish off their work at the earliest.
Make yourself available
While the child is doing homework, make sure you are available to answer their queries or help with things they do not follow. It will make them feel secure knowing you are around for them and topics/subjects they have trouble with will seem less intimidating.
Pin up a small 'star chart' on their cork board. Each time homework/study is done well, reward them with a star. At the end of the month count up the stars and take them for a small treat depending on the number of stars earned - a trip to the movies, a new book, or the baseball mitt the little one has been asking for.
Simple strategies will go a long way in making homework less stressful for the child and the rewards earned by them will give them a sense of pride in having achieved something with their hard work. A win-win situation for everyone!