Homework? Oh no. Just hearing the word doesn’t really make us enthusiastic to do it. For both kids and parents, homework translates to extra work – stress for the parents and boredom for the kids. This isn’t surprising because most of the time, homework is really not exciting.
But we can’t do away with homework unless there’s a law in your state that bans it (which is rarely the case). So while we have it, let’s just make the most out of it and you can do this by making homework a fun and exciting activity. Not only will it be fun for the kids, but it will also be fun (or at least tolerable) for the parents, too! Here are five tips to making homework fun.
Study in the perfect place and in the proper disposition.
Setting the mood with your child or your tutee is the first tip in making homework fun. It’s already established that homework isn’t fun at all and if you study in a place that’s stuffy and dark, chances are that you will get bored to your wits even before you start. Stuffy places just make you sleepy and uncomfortable while dark places are just not conducive for studying at all.
To make the perfect study place, make sure that you are in a well-lighted room. If you will teach or study during the day, you can use natural light or you can stay beside the window so that it will help you become more creative. Also, it would be better not to face a wall when you study because contrary to not making you distracted, facing a wall just blocks your creativity. However, facing a window can be distracting and your child or tutee might end up daydreaming. That is why you are supposed to set the mood that what you are supposed to do is the homework.
Aside from the perfect study area, you can easily set the mood by being in a good disposition before you get down to business. If you are in a bad mood and you feel that you will easily lose your cool, don’t even attempt to teach your child. Children are sensitive enough to pick up your bad mood and if you end up making it contagious, the child might lose the will to study. Once you affect them in a negative way, it would be harder to get them to study mode again.
Turn it into a game or a song.
One of the most common techniques in making things fun is by turning them into a game. Regardless of what age group you are in, once a game is introduced, it is difficult to not get attracted by it. This is because games, in general, are exciting and they always pick at anyone’s attention.
A simple game will do. If you are teaching math, you can use candies and chocolates as numbers. You can even have flashcards that can help speed up the kids’ basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If you are teaching vocabulary, you can play a matching game of the words. You can even introduce board games like Scrabble, Upwords, and more.
But you can do more than games. You can make a song, a dance, or a painting out of it. For older people, they make acronyms out of the words so it is easier to remember. Have you watched that episode in Hannah Montana when Miley made a song so that she can remember all the bones of the body? Well, this is the same technique. Not only will it help you remember what you’re studying, it will also help catch the attention of the kid you are teaching.
What this tip is trying to say is that there are two important things to remember when you are already teaching a kid. First is that you should make an activity where the kid would actually want to participate it. If you are teaching a group of kids, a small group dynamic will do. Don’t forget to keep it simple because you might lose the point of making the game if it’s complicated. Secondly, the game should also serve as a tool to remember the homework. It should be able to help you understand the lesson well.
When you have introduced a game, you should also include giving incentives. Having incentives is a kind of reinforcement for the child because this motivates him or her to do well and to participate actively. Any kind of incentive will do. If you are playing a game that involves food, then you can offer the food as a prize if the child does well. Or, if you do not plan on having a game, you can just mention giving a reward before you start on the homework. This will help the child stay motivated while studying.
If ever they start being restless, all you have to do is remind them of the reward they will be receiving. In some cases, telling what the reward is is helpful for the child especially when the parent knows what they want. But if you do not know what the kid wants, it is best just to stick with the usual prices. You wouldn’t want to give an incentive that the child doesn’t want to get!
To add to that, you are not limited to food incentives. You can say that the incentive would be giving extra time for television or for video games. While you can be creative in whatever it is you want to give, the reward system should not be all the time. This is because continuously having a reward system will make the child constantly study just to get the reward. If you take away the reward, they might not be motivated enough to study on their own. Just know how to moderate the incentives you give and make sure that they are reasonable.
If you are teaching, it is never helpful to shout. Shouting at the child just discourages them to study harder and what’s worse is that you foster fear in them. As a teacher or a parent, the goal is to make homework fun and not to make it like a life sentence. Besides, no one achieves anything when they are shouted at.
Don’t forget that you are dealing with children. Children have fragile hearts and they do not have the wisdom yet that what you are trying to do for them is for their own good. The moment you shout at them, they might keep that memory in their minds and hold it against you. This will just damage your relationship with them.
If ever you feel that your patience is being tested and you are on the brink of shouting at them, just give a short break both for you and the child so you can gather your composure. Take a deep breath and try to gather all the patience you can get. Teaching a child may be challenging, but it is not impossible. With the proper approach and attitude to them, they might grow to like you and look forward to studying with you.
Take a break, or more.
Last but not the least important tip is taking a break. Just a while ago it was suggested that when you feel that you are losing your temper, you should take a break. This cannot be emphasized enough. Teaching a child can really test your patience and so a break or a series of short breaks would be advisable.
You can do this by telling the child something like “If we study for 30 minutes, you can get a 10-minute break. If we study for an hour, you can get 20 minutes of break and you can watch TV, play games, etc.” With this example, you can actually use the quick breaks as incentive for the child. This saves you money and it also saves you time.
But what can having breaks actually do? They say that the average attention span for people these days is 20 minutes. When 20 minutes have passed, it is already difficult to get the attention of the person again. For children, it is pretty much the same because they are more restless. Having breaks will help them get back the attention they lost while studying.
This tip may not directly make studying a fun task, but it does make it more tolerable for children. There are other ways in which you can make your study time fun and the tips above are just a few of what you can possibly do. But before you jump in with what you have to do, you should know what the child wants that can be used as incentive. You should be able to identify what the child can deem to be worth doing their homework. Once you get their attention, you can already have a greater chance of making studying fun.
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