Teaching Good Work Habits to Kids

One of my boys has a detention this week, for failing to hand in homework. Again. Really, he has no excuse. And I am at my wits’ end! It seems like the Homework Battle has been going on in my house for most of my parenting years, and I know that many other parents feel the same.

Come to think of it, I used to have regular detentions for not handing in homework. It must be Karma out to get me!

How can parents help their kids to get homework done and handed in, and how will this help them to become better workers in the future? Our family already has most of the recommended tactics in place:

A designated homework time. I usually let my boys play and have supper before homework time. I am considering changing that, and having the boys do their homework the moment they come in from school, incorporating a snack. Perhaps they are too tired to work later in the day? A designated time helps everyone to focus and be better organized. They say that it takes three months for a habit to ‘stick’. I know that my mornings are definitely my habitual work times, when I focus best;  if I am not working at nine o’clock I start to feel like something is amiss! And this is purely because I made myself work every morning, for months, until it became a habit.

All the required tools in one place. The kitchen/office is a good homework spot here. There are pens, paper and uncluttered spaces galore for working. I can get on with washing the dishes or chopping veg, while keeping an eagle eye on boys who would rather be painting one another with tip-ex than revising Latin or getting that project on the Civil War. Whoever is working in the kitchen, they can reach for a dictionary, a calculator or a thesaurus, which are all within arm’s reach.

I always try to remember that it’s not MY homework. It’s easy to make homework the parent’s responsibility, and spend hours nagging, looking over their shoulders, and making corrections. But that only teaches the child not to take responsibility for their actions (or non-actions). Getting a detention now for failing to hand in homework is a good thing, because later on, the stakes will be much higher. My son needs to live through the consequences of his disorganization and learn from them, so that hopefully he will be better organized in the future. If I don’t send in a freelance assignment when it is due, the repercussions will be worse than ‘Detention’!

Crime and Punishment? In general, I don’t punish. But I think the PS2 will be taking a time-out until I get a glowing report from my son’s teacher.

Obviously, my son needs more than just the time and space to get his work done. This week, I will be using more great freelancing tactics to help him: I’ll be researching online to find better methods for my son, and I’ll be asking the experts – His teachers, his dad, and other parents like you! Spill it, freelancers. How can I teach great work habits to my kids?

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