3 Simple Ways to Make Homework Fun

I’m going to be blunt.

Right now, your child’s homework time just plain sucks.

It does.

You dread it every night.  “Hey, have you done your math homework yet?

“NO!  I can’t do my homework.  I don’t want to do it yet.  Can’t I watch TV? I’ll do it after dinner.”

So much back and forth and back and forth. It’s become too much.

The question is, how do you make your child want to do homework?  How do you make homework less boring?

Read: What to do when your child cries over homework

Let’s define fun.  

If you’ve ever spent time outdoors, you might know about the fun scale.

The fun scale described three sorts of fun.

Type 1 fun is what you typically think of as fun.  It’s easy with very little challenge. Relaxing, new, and novel with maybe a bit of adrenaline.

Then there is Type 2 which is not fun… in the moment.  Shivering in 30-degree weather when you’re trying to sleep in your tent or wading through a cold river with the water up to your waist. 

These experiences aren’t fun at the time, right?  But when you look back you have a sort of fondness for them because you endured something or surmounted a challenge.

Ironically, Type 3 fun isn’t fun at all.  It’s pure suffering. Think about that movie with James Franco rock climbing when he lost his hand. 

 There are really two types. One, you can have fun with the unexpected.  Something new and novel is always fun.

For homework, type 1 is out because there is a challenge.  It’s hard. But type 3 is also out because we don’t want it to be miserable.

When people approach just the right amount of challenge and have the skills and help to achieve it, that challenge can be fun.

We can make homework solid type 2 fun.

That’s the kind of fun we want to attain with homework.  Here’s what to keep in mind:

Read: How to Build Grit in Kids: When to Push and When to Comfort

1. Make homework fun by putting it entirely in the child’s control

You know that fight that happens every night about WHEN to do homework?  

If you’re fighting all the time, you’re assuming responsibility over your kids’ work.

They feel no inner drive to get it done because they know you’ll remind them.

Instead, switch that responsibility to them.

When my daughter struggled with her homework in Kindergarten, we sat down and brainstormed everything she had to do after school.

She wrote down: unpack backpack, have a snack, feed the cat, do homework. 

Ok.. I had to coax her on that “do homework” task.

Then, I asked her to write down the order she wanted to do the tasks we agreed on.  

The first day she came home from school, I didn’t have to nag.  She followed the list.

Days after that, I didn’t have to nag, I simply pointed at the list and she started.

The time of the task was in her control.  

But she still had trouble with one more thing.

2. Teach your child how to cope with overwhelm to make homework easier

You know the feeling: when you have this massive to-do list in front of you and you don’t know where to start.

Everything feels equally important.

You do what you can not to hyperventilate and drown your sorrows with the nearest box of girl scout cookies.

That’s NOT Fun.

Your child is dealing with the same.  

What is fun is if we turn that overwhelm into a game.

Take out a timer and ask your child how long he or she thinks he can stay working on homework without getting distracted.

I would start low, say 2 minutes. 

Give your child the timer – remember the control – and ask them to press start and then work for that time.

You’ll see a renewed determination in your kid to stay focused and finish as much as they can.

When the timer goes off, point out how much they did!  Did they ever think they could do that much in two minutes?  What do you want to set the timer for next?

They’ll tell you.  

3. Teach kids how to reward themselves

Rewards are best when they’re unexpected.

But it’s even better to teach kids how to reward themselves so that they’ill always have a trick to self-motivate.

Rewards can be super simple – a pack of fruit snacks with one gummy for every timer completion.

A sticker they can put on their notebook.

Twenty minutes of screen time. 

Simple stuff they can give to themselves.  Ways they can connect the task with that feel-good reward.

The best part is that they eventually won’t need to reward themselves for doing homework.  Only when they’re building the habit.

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The trick to make homework fun

These three skills of controlling their own schedule, making homework time a game and knowing how to reward themselves puts kids ways ahead when it comes to making homework fun.  

Grab our FREE Drama Free Homework quickstart guide HERE . It’ll give you the tools you need to start a stress-free homework routine.

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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