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Stop Battling Reading Homework!

Six simple tips to get reading homework done without a fight.
on December 26, 2013

Homework isn't fun. I know I should mention its purpose and importance, but as a parent (taking off any and all educator hats I wear to say this) it's not my favorite thing to enforce. I am quite certain that if my son had to eat ice cream for homework, he would still not enjoy it. Simply put, making an (even otherwise enjoyable) activity mandatory strips much of the joy from it.

But joy or no joy, homework needs to be done. I'm sure some people are reading this and thinking, "Just tell them they have to do it or else." For me, a heavy hand of "do it or get punished" paints reading into the "not fun" category -- a place I have worked hard to keep it out of for seven years. Now, no doubt there will be days when all parents, myself included, will use that heavy hand. But when homework is a daily thing, I need more strategies to use so reading stays fun (most days) and my child is still getting his homework done.

Here are 6 ways you can help your kids get their reading homework done without a struggle.

1. Routine.
A clear routine is a great starting point for argument-free homework time. If you always read at 3:30, then your child knows what to expect. Consider all of his other obligations, after-school sports, and extracurricular activities before trying to cement a routine.

2. Fuel up to learn.
Kids that eat a good breakfast have been shown to learn better, and it stands to reason that kids who are hungry after school will be focused on their grumbling tummies instead of the words on the page. Have snacks easily accessible or ready on the table to eat after school so that homework time isn't interrupted by hungry bellies.

3. New materials.
If the reading material is not engaging, switch it up! If the material is required, ask your child's teacher if you can try something else or trade off your child's choice one night for the required material the next.  Check out Amy Mascott's post about picking the right books for your kids if you need help finding the right materials.

4. New environment.
Is your child's desk the only place he can tackle reading homework? No way! Your child doesn't need to write, so ditch the desk from time to time. Try the living room, a big bed, or even outside! Switching up where your child is doing the work can make a huge difference in how enjoyable it is. You can even make a reading nook or blanket fort for your kids to read in.

5. Divide and conquer.
Who said you have to do all the homework at once? Splitting it up into two or more parts can make it much more manageable for families with busy schedules and kids who have a tendency to get overwhelmed.

6. Praise…and maybe even a little reward!
I don't applaud the simple completion of homework if the amount is reasonable; however, I do applaud and reward great attitudes while doing it. Simple praise is offered honestly and often. Rewards come less frequently to recognize a longer period of good effort. Maybe it's a hot chocolate after school on Friday, an extra 10 minutes to stay up one night, or getting to choose the movie for the next family movie night. It doesn't have to be big, but recognizing your child's efforts in keeping a good attitude about homework will go a long way toward maintaining that attitude.

I know there are more tips out there! Share your happy homework tips with us on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.

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Get the latest advice, tips, and resources on helping your child read at every age and every stage. Each week, find kids' book reviews, ways to extend the reading experience, and tips on how to spark a reader's interests from our expert contributors and editors.

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