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Homework Happiness: Make Studying Fruitful and Fun

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Updated on Aug 5, 2009

Your child has been sitting in his room for over an hour, and his homework isn’t done… in fact, he hasn’t even started, and now he wants to wants to watch TV instead.

Does this sound familiar? Is every night in your house a battle to get homework done?

Sharon Marshall Lockett, author of Home Sweet Homework and founder of Lockett Learning Systems, says there are many reasons why kids have trouble with homework; but the top three are:

  1. They think they understand the homework, but they “draw a blank” once they’re home, and don't know where to begin.
  2. There are too many things vying for their time.
  3. It isn't a priority in the home, so they become masters at negotiating their way out of homework.

So, short of doing his homework for him, how can you help your child complete his homework without going to war over it? Here’s what Marshall Lockett recommends:

Necessity

First of all, make homework a non-negotiable. That means no excuses, no extenuating circumstances, and no playing around instead; the homework must get done, every night.

Personality

According to Marshall Lockett, there are four personality types that need to approach homework differently.

  1. Sanguine children don’t sit still very well, and like to talk as they learn. “They can follow you around the kitchen ‘talking’ their homework while you cook dinner,” says Marshall Lockett. Let your sanguine child talk it out, and then have him go write it down before he forgets.
  2. Phlegmatic children need you to be around them, listen to them, and hug them a lot. Once you’ve caught up with news of your phlegmatic child’s day, “ask them about their homework and make sure they know what to do. You can then leave them to work alone and check back every once in a while... or read a book at the table while they work alongside you,” says Marshall Lockett.
  3. Melancholy children are serious, hard-working students with high standards who work best alone. Marshall Lockett suggests starting your melancholy child off with a nutritious snack, and then leaving him to it. “When they reach a break in their assignment, join them at the table or desk and look over their work. Praise it specifically, not generally.”
  4. Choleric children are goal-oriented and focused. They are active like the sanguines, but less social, and are only motivated by things that have meaning to them. “They are into ‘reaching the goal,’ i.e. finishing the assignment, more than ‘understanding the content.’ Your job will be to make it relevant to them. They can help you with dinner as they study out loud,” says Marshall Lockett.

Strategy

Your child likely learns best using one of his senses over the other; for instance, he could learn better by seeing something, by hearing it out loud, by touching, or by doing a task. However, if you combine the senses, you’ll empower him to learn different ways, and grasp the concepts more completely.

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