How do you get a child to want to do homework independently? -- Fourth-Grader's Mom


Getting a child to want to do homework independently is much like getting a child to want to set the table or clean his or her room without a parent helping. Like these other tasks, homework cannot be classified as something that is genuinely fun to do most of the time. However, a child can gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by him- or herself -- building pride in his or her efforts.

The sooner homework becomes the child's responsibility rather than the parent's, you are on the right track. At the fourth-grade level, you certainly should not be hovering over a child doing homework. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use a homework contract like the one on our Dear Teacher website. It can spell out the times and places where homework will be done. You also might want to include a reward clause in the contract as your child learns to do most of his homework independently.

At the fourth-grade level, parents can look over the homework assignments at the start of the homework time with a child and help the child decide which work will be done first. During this time, directions for doing the homework should be discussed. It is also helpful to show children how to use their textbooks to answer questions about homework assignments. For example, in math, children can rework problems that are similar to those in the assignment. Following these steps gradually teaches children how to handle homework by themselves.

Homework is easier for children to do if they have an assignment notebook to write down all assignments and a calendar to write down long-term assignments so that study time can be planned.