There are many jobs that parents perform on a day-to-day or minute-to-minute basis. One of the most challenging is that of homework proctor.

Here’s the reality, most kids don’t want to do their homework and most parents want them to get their homework done quietly, efficiently, and correctly with a minimum of supervision. After all, this is where our kids learn how to internally motivate themselves, focus on a task to completion, and take pride in their work.

But getting our kids to shut off — and shut out — all the distractions in their lives to finish their homework can be an endless struggle full of arguments, threats, bribes, and heartache. How can we make this a more successful, positive experience? Here are a few ways to keep them motivated.

1. Start Early

The foundation needs to be laid early in a child’s academic life. If it is, then it will become second nature to your child and will make things easier for all involved. Like any skill, if they learn it early, they will resist it less and less.

2. Set Up a Homework Area

Consistency is key. If your child knows that a certain area of your home is set up for homework, then that is where they will learn to work. The area should be quiet and away from televisions, toys, and other potential distractions. It should be an area with all the necessary items for them to accomplish their homework.

3. Help Them Manage Time

Many kids have no idea how to manage their time. Before your kids begin their homework, help them map out a strategic plan to accomplish it by determining how to prioritize the workload. By doing this day after day, you will also help them to learn to do this on their own, which will be an invaluable skill.

4. Give Them Time to Relax

All kids are not created equal. Some kids might prefer to get their homework done as soon as they walk in the door after school. Once they get it done, they reason, they can play and have fun unencumbered. Other kids might need some time to unwind. Other kids might want to relax, have dinner, and crank out the homework before bedtime. If you try to figure out which strategy works best for your child, it will benefit everyone.

5. Enforce the Ground Rules

You must set up ground rules right away. No television on during homework. No smartphones or social media. And if they’re online to do work, limit the obvious distractions. But the most important thing is that you enforce these rules as often as necessary in order to ensure that your children learn and follow the rules.

6. Be Involved

It’s difficult, but parents must be involved and invested in this process. You might need to sit and assist your child to keep them focused, or you might need to sit nearby and remind them to complete the assignments. It won’t be the first thing that you want to do, but it will help the process and, eventually, your child will discover the way to navigate the process successfully on their own.

7. Reward Good Behavior

Finally, if your child is doing the work, getting good grades, and following your rules, make sure to reward them. If they see that their efforts will pay off in terms of getting things that they want, it will most likely make them work harder in the future.

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