6 Simple Strategies for Homework Success – A Guest Post by Tracy Lewis of 1-2-3 Magic

{I’m so excited to bring you this wonderful guest post by 1-2-3 Magic‘s own Tracy Lewis.  Tracy is the co-author of the 1-2-3 Magic companion book, 1-2-3 Magic for Kids.  (Check out our review here.)  Be sure to follow 1-2-3 Magic on Facebook or Twitter for great tips and reminders for navigating effective discipline.}  

1-2-3 Magic Guest

Summer is winding down, which means that the dreaded homework will soon be winding up.

I’m not sure who dreads homework more; kids or parents.  After all, when kids are small, their homework is also our homework!  With some kids, the whole thing is a breeze.  With others, giving the family cat a nightly bath would be more pleasant than what we’re getting ready to encounter within the next several weeks.

Whether your child has an easy time or a difficult time with getting homework done, there are a few habits that parents can establish that can benefit all children and families when it comes to homework.

1.  Find a homework time and stick to it.  The homework time doesn’t necessarily have to be the same for each child either!  Some kids need a bit of decompression time after school prior to starting homework.  Other kids do better if they jump right into it after school and get it out of the way.  Take a look at your kids individually and determine what’s best for each one.  Regardless of what time you choose, try to stick with it daily.  Obviously, things come up sometimes and your homework time will have to adjust accordingly.  Overall, however, if you can make a certain homework time a habit, your kids will come to expect it and it will just become part of their routine.

2.  Set up a “homework space” for your kids.  Again, the space doesn’t have to be the same for each child.  Some kids do better at the kitchen table while others do better being able to spread out on their beds or bedroom floor.  Along with setting up a homework time, having a certain space in which to do homework is just another part of allowing homework to become a routine habit.

3.  As soon as a project or long term assignment is given, sit down and plan it out
.  Discuss how much time it will take to complete and divide the assignment into steps.  After you do this, create a calendar to determine which steps get completed on which days.  Allow at least a day or two of “buffer time” between the completion of the work and the due date.  You never know when your child is going to become ill or when something else is going to interfere with your plan.  Time management is a skill that so many people lack.  Helping your kids develop this skill early is going to help her forever!

Now, what do we do with the kids who would rather do hard time in Alcatraz than do their homework?  Well, 1-2-3 Magic has some suggestions that actually work!

1.  Assignment sheets.  The first step in making sure your child is getting his homework done is finding out what homework has been assigned!  Having a teacher either create an assignment sheet, or even just acknowledge that your child’s assignment sheet has the correct information (via initials or a signature) is a good place to start.  Some school districts even allow parents to access this information online.  Speak with your child’s teacher to determine the best way for you to get this information on a daily basis.

2.  The PNP Method.  PNP stands for “positive negative positive.”  Suppose your daughter brings you her math homework and you find that six of the twenty problems are solved incorrectly.  Your first inclination is to point out her errors.  Don’t do that….yet!  This is especially important for kids who have trouble with homework.  It’s hard to always hear about how you’re messing up, so the first thing you say should be positive.

For example, you could say, “Your handwriting here is very neat.  Good job!”  Next, you would point out her incorrect answers to her.  That’s the “negative” part.  Finally, you say something else that’s positive.  For example, “You got all of that work finished without having to be told to do it!”  What you’re doing here is “sandwiching” the negative comment in between two positive ones.  She is hearing “good-bad-good” instead of “bad bad bad.”  It makes a big difference to the person on the receiving end of the criticism!

3.  Charting for homework.  Using a chart for homework requires a certain level of commitment on the part of the parent.  Used correctly, it can be very effective.  Create a chart through which a child can earn a possible five points per day.

A child can earn one point in each of the following categories:

Neatness (to the best of the child’s ability)

Work is (mostly) correct

Work is thorough

No complaining during homework

Homework started on your own, at the correct time, without being reminded

If, at the end of each week, the child earns a certain number of points (not all of the possible points; if the child was perfect, he wouldn’t need a chart!), he gets some sort of prize.  It can be as simple as going out for ice cream alone with dad.  It only needs to be something that is motivating.  It certainly doesn’t have to be expensive!  In fact, it doesn’t have to cost a thing if you get creative with it.

It’s a new school year and a new start for most of us.  With a little preplanning, we can help our kids form habits that will benefit them throughout their lives.  Here’s to a fantastic 2013-2014 school year!


Many thanks to Tracy for sharing her wisdom and these practical strategies.  What works for you and your family when it comes to homework?  Is it a dreaded or a peaceful task in your home?


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