4) Praise and Approval are Powerful Motivators!
Look at these two possible scenarios for getting children to do their homework. Which would you respond to best to if you were the child?
#1 “Sit down right now and get your homework done! If you didn’t waste so much time, you’d have been done a long time ago.
#2 I was so proud of the way you sat right down and got your spelling done yesterday! You didn’t get distracted even once! Wow! That was awesome! Do you think you can do that again today?
Specific approval and praise makes us want to repeat the behavior. Lavish specific approval and praise on your child. Celebrate even small successes.
5) Create a Stress-Free Environment
The brain’s job is to learn. But it does its job best when it is free from stress and worry. Too often, the issue of homework is surrounded with time pressure and the parent’s stress of trying to fit work, extra-curricular activities, dinner, bath, and bedtime into a few short hours.
The brain learns best when free of fear and anxiety. Homework will always take a backseat to issues of safety, pressure, or feelings of insecurity. If the brain is distracted by these things, there is little room for learning. When parents can provide a calm, stress-free environment for children, all things, including homework will go better.
In many households today, trying to find time to get homework done is very stressful because of all the other commitments that various family members have. As hard as it is to fit everything in, homework will go better if parents can approach it from the standpoint of enjoyable, quality time with their child.
If your child can do his homework independently, check on him periodically and reinforce his efforts with praise and positive touch.
If your child requires lots of help from you, try to communicate through your voice and words, “I’m so glad I get to spend this time with you. We can manage this together.” This can be tough day after day, but since it has to be done, looking at it as quality time together helps remove the resentment and stress and allows you to celebrate and reinforce all the little successes.
6) Reduce Anxiety
Sometimes it’s the child’s own anxiety about not being able to do the work or about an upcoming test that causes him to avoid homework or get angry or emotional. Here are some simple strategies that can help anyone to regain a calmer and more productive state for thinking and studying.
- Lay on the floor or sit relaxed in a chair with eyes closed
- Starting with the toes, consciously tighten each muscle, moving up to the calves, thighs and hips.
- Tighten the muscles of the stomach and chest.
- Tighten the muscles of your fingers and work up the arms to the shoulders, neck, and head.
- Hold everything tight for a few seconds more.
- Then take a deep breath and slowly breathe out, releasing all of the tension in your muscles and becoming completely relaxed.
- Repeat two more times.
If dealing with test anxiety, do the release before studying. Then say to yourself, “I am calm and ready to study.” Before the test, remember the calm, relaxed feeling and say (think), “I am calm and ready to do my best.”
- Warms hands by rubbing them together briskly.
- Softly cup hands over closed eyes with heel of hands over eyes but not actually touching the eye lids.
- Keep neck and back straight; shoulders relaxed. Raise elbows to shoulder level and rest them on a table.
- Slowly inhale and exhale, feeling the warmth and darkness soothe the muscles of the eyes and the whole body.
This is an excellent way to rest and refresh the mind and eyes.
- Walk in the pattern of a figure 8.
- Feel your feet as they touch the floor from heel to toe.
- Relax you shoulders, arms, and fingers.
- Keep your head up, looking forward.
- Walk in this pattern for 2-10 minutes, until you feel calm, clear, and relaxed.
This is an excellent way to diffuse overload, frustration, or anger. It is a good way to get ready for homework.
Once your child is walking in a relaxed manner, you can orally practice spelling words, vocabulary, and math facts with him while he walks.
The Third and Final part of this report will be published tomorrow…
For information about how we can help you assess and build your child’s mental tools, or processing skills for learning, call Learning Foundations at (210) 495-2626.