When it comes to homework, it can seem impossible to get kids motivated to start or stay on task. It can be especially frustrating when you know your child is smart and capable, but they aren’t willing to put in the time and effort it takes to get the grades you know they can. As parents, we want our kids to put their best effort into their schoolwork without having to pester them and have the situation affect our relationship in a negative way. Here are some tips to help motivate your kids to stay on task.

Establish clear expectations

One way to avoid a constant battle is to communicate in advance what your expectations are. When will homework be completed? Will it be started immediately after school or after dinner? Let your child know where it is appropriate to work. Some kids are able to stay on task if they are alone in their bedroom, while others may find toys or electronics distracting. Other kids may prefer to work at the kitchen table while others may find this to be too distracting because of other family activities around them. Other kids need to be reminded that sitting in front of the TV while working on homework is not a good idea.

Once you have established when and where they will work, make sure they have easy access to the supplies they need. It is also a good idea to let your child know what your expectations are for homework. Instead of focusing on the grade itself, let them know you expect their best work, that homework will be turned in on time, and that you are available to help if needed.

Another way you can motivate your child is by letting them know that they can do something they enjoy after their homework is completed. For example - “When you finish your reading, you can go outside and play.” or “When you are done with your math homework, you can watch a TV show.” This communicates the importance of homework over leisure time and gives them a motivation to complete it.

Set an example and be supportive

One of the biggest motivators for kids is to have their parents’ support in the challenges they face on a daily basis. This does not mean that you do your child’s homework for them or that you bribe or reward them every time they do their homework. A high five or an “I knew you could do it!” is usually enough to put a smile on your child’s face. Parents can also show their support by setting an example. If your child is sitting down at the table to work on homework, it may be a perfect time to sit down and work on writing a grocery list, sorting mail or adding things to your calendar. You will set an example and create a quiet environment for your child to work while getting a few things off your own to-do list.

Teach them responsibility

Parents can help their kids with their school projects and homework, but when it comes down to it, the kids themselves are responsible for their own homework and grades. It can be tough for parents to do, but allowing kids to face the natural consequences of their work (or lack thereof) will help them learn responsibility. If your child puts in minimal effort, rushes through the work or forgets to turn it in, their grades will be affected. If they put in their best work, take their time and complete assignments in a timely manner, their grades will probably see a boost. You can also give your kids extra responsibility by letting them choose when they will work on homework, how they will break up larger projects and what organizational tools work best for them.

Homework can seem like a constant battle, but setting good habits early on in the school year is usually the best way to manage school work. Parents should keep in touch with teachers and their child to make sure all three parties are a team and are working towards helping their child succeed.