Do you dream about how to finish homework fast when you are helping your child? There are probably so many other things you would rather be doing with your child. Right?
I am going to take a wild guess that you don’t like homework. Maybe you even find homework painful and non-productive. Not that you don’t think it is important, beneficial, or necessary—just that it is as much YOUR homework as it is your child’s.
I do feel I have to add a disclaimer here. Homework can be beneficial and may be necessary at times, especially in the upper grades. I just don't think it is ALWAYS necessary.
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By the end of this post, I want you to be able to say, “Wow-that's outside the box, but it is totally worth a try!”
Here are the traditional tips you can easily find about finishing homework fast:
- set up shop in a quiet place that is distraction free
- have all supplies ready and easily accessible
- use a reward system
- give lots of praise
- take an active interest in your child’s homework
- monitor them without hovering
- do not do their homework for them
Here are 5 Super Savvy Homework Hacks for Parents: Finish Homework Fast!
1. Using Your “Scents”
Did you know that there are particular scents that actually help with concentration and invigoration? Most of us are familiar with the scents that promote stress relief (Eucalyptus) and sleep (Lavender). And of course, those scrumptious scents we use to make our homes, cars, and bodies smell good and remind us of the current season. The website, www.sleep.org, highlights the effects of the following natural scents as follows:
Lemon scent promotes mental stimulation and concentration. It also can boost your body’s production of serotonin (the happy hormone) and decrease stress inducing hormones such as norepinephrine.
Generally, we think of peppermint scent as refreshing. Did you know it can also boost alertness, your ability to focus, and stimulate your child’s “thinking cap?”
I love the smell of fresh rosemary and usually try to keep a plant or two in my garden and on my patio. The scent of rosemary can help “rev up” the brain giving you more physical and mental energy to complete tasks quicker.
Having these scents circulating in the area of your home where homework is usually done is a great way to set your child up for success and create a pleasant atmosphere. I personally love to use the Wallflower plugs and scents from Bath and Body Works all throughout my house. This would be a great way to incorporate these therapeutic scents into your homework routine and finish homework fast.
2. “Motor Mouth” Chew Gum, Suck on a Mint, or Drink Cold Water
A professor at the NYU Dental School studied how chewing gum can help the body to release insulin, which affects a person’s memory.
On one visit at my kid’s dentist office, the dentist told me something that surprised me: chewing gum can actually help your teeth stay healthy. Not just any gum of course, but gum brands that have xylitol in them. Xylitol is believed by some researchers to prevent tooth decay. The American Dental Association says on its Web site that “chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay” and recommends looking for gum with its ADA-approved seal. The saliva produced in the mouth by the physical act of chewing can wash away acids and bacteria, thereby protecting teeth.
Mints also keep the body’s physical motor running, which keeps pathways to the brain open and active. Of course, most mints come in a “mint” flavor. Adding the smell effect as mentioned above to the motion of sucking is a great combination.
Lately, my children’s schools have started to require the students to bring water bottles to school so that kids have access to cold water at any time. A study from the University of East London School of Psychology in England concluded that drinking water helps the brain work faster.. and increases concentration.
3. Use an Exercise Ball Instead of a Chair
If your child sits on an exercise ball while working on homework is very beneficial. Having to constantly keep themselves balanced on the ball and to keep it from rolling out from underneath them helps them stay present in the moment. The small constant movements needed to remain on the ball also can help stave off drowsiness. Physical activity provides the brain with oxygen-rich blood which increases the brain’s performance. Movement helps memory by creating additional neurons in the “learning center of the brain” and increases the connections in existing neural pathways, (Medina 2008). For a more in-depth explanation of the benefits of movement and exercise in relation to learning, there is a great article on the Human Kinetics website. Read it here. It is fascinating!
4. Set a Homework Routine not a Schedule.
One of my own greatest personal struggles is setting schedules and consistently following them. I am really good at thinking through and making elaborate and productive schedules for many different things, but I usually just follow them for a day or two—a week if I am lucky—but then something comes up like an illness or another “special circumstance” that needs to be addressed and that well-intentioned schedule is the first thing to get bumped down the priority list. About the only time I am good with schedules is dropping off and picking up my kids from school.
You may think having a well thought out schedule balancing schoolwork with family and other obligations is necessary to complete homework. It may sound great to break up your child’s weekly assignments for the four school days leading up to turn in on Friday. Yet, life happens, a parent or child can get sick, other activities come up that are worthwhile for your family, beautiful weather, visitors, child’s mood for that day, your mood for that day.
So, I recommend trying to set a routine, not a schedule. I don’t always know when I will have a quiet moment to help my daughter read or do her math, so I take the opportunity when it presents itself. Regardless of WHEN it happens, the routine remains the same. That may happen after school one day when my younger kids are occupying themselves, I don’t have to cook, and I found a sliver of time to focus with my child on homework. Or one day it might be after dinner, while my husband is bathing the younger kids and my daughter and I can escape to my bedroom for some quiet and space. The routine is that we do homework. The schedule varies to accommodate our family life, daily moods, etc.
5. Know When to “Call the Game”
If you or your child is having a really tough day, don’t force it because homework as a
negative experience will become ingrained to them. We don’t’ want that because they have a lifetime (or at least 12-17 more years) still to come. Take a break or plan to reconvene the next day.
My son is in junior high and I love his Math teacher! She does not assign homework! Work that a student does at home for her class is either unfinished classwork or extra practice on concepts that prove a struggle. She stated at the beginning of the school year that she believes kids need to have other things in their lives than schoolwork in order for them to grow into happy well-rounded persons.
Unfortunately, not enough educators believe the same thing. Ergo, “The Homework Struggle.” What do kids want when they come home from school? They want to rest their brains and be able to play. Hobbies, sports, extracurricular activities, and family time are important for them to participate in. What do parents want when their children come home from school? We want to enjoy quality time with our children. We want to prepare dinner, bathe our children, and tuck them into bed nice and snuggly. Neither kids nor parents want to find themselves fighting with each other in order to complete more times than not arbitrary homework assignments.
So, are you ready to step outside that box and figure out a way to finish homework with your child faster and more effectively?
What do you think about these fresh ideas on doing homework? Do you have any secrets for helping your child finish homework faster? Please comment below!