One of my 4 boys favorite activity is riding his bike downhill at 90 MPH. Slogging through homework? Not so much. But these homework tips for boys let him keep up with his homework and emerge with a smile on his face.
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20 Homework Tips for Boys
1. Make SURE to have him do something active beforehand.
If you do nothing else on this list, this tip will save the day! Have him run circles around the house if he has to. Some kids like to see how fast they can run and try to beat their best time.
Other ideas: mini-trampoline (or our favorite full-size one – so much fun!), ride his bike, walk the dog, etc.
Let him get some energy out first and decompress from the schoolday. Don’t even think about starting homework until he’s used some muscles. His brain will thank you for it.
2. Stay nearby as a resource.
My son doesn’t need me for most of his homework, but he does like to have me around. Some kids freak out about the amount of work, even though they’re capable of doing it. So I am there to help him do one thing at a time.
3. Consider reading directions for him.
I figure he’s been reading all day long in school so he could probably use the extra boost. I dole out the pages one at a time for him. If the instructions are confusing, I’ll help him reason through what the page is asking of him.
4. Help him think through a plan of attack.
Ask him to look over his pages and pick which things will be easy. Ask him if he wants to start with the easy stuff or the harder work. This helps him to assess what he’s got to do and notice that it’s really not that bad.
Once he starts planning what he’s got to do, it is a huge step in the right direction. Isn’t getting started always the hardest part?
5. Have a homework routine.
Have your child pick a time for homework and stick to it as much as possible. Set an alarm if you need to so the time doesn’t slip by.
Tie homework to his daily routine (for example, start homework after playing outside for 30 minutes or start homework right after dinner). This habit helps beat the urge to procrastinate.
6. Help him break down large tasks into small ones.
A pile of homework might seem mountainous but if you teach him to tackle it one thing at a time, he’ll learn it’s not so bad.
7. Keep things fun.
Make homework time a pleasant time. Make things into a game. A little silliness or a bad joke can help keep the mood appropriately light.
8. Use sensory tactics to engage the brain.
Some kids like a crunchy snack or chewing gum to engage their brains. Sometimes standing up at the counter works better than sitting, especially for boys. Some kids like to do homework sprawled on the floor. Sitting on a balance ball instead of a chair is another option for distractable kids. It gives room to move and bounce without wandering away from the table.
Ask your son for his preference and see what works best.
9. Put the homework responsibility on him.
Although I’m available as a resource for my son, he knows it’s HIS job to do his homework. I’m not checking his planner to see what he has to do (although I might suggest he check it himself). I’m not checking over his work unless he asks me to. I’m not nagging him to be finished.
Giving him the responsibility for his work is on of my 10 reasons why I like public school better than homeschooling.
I don’t want to be the bad guy; my role is the supportive cheerleader. A few times last year he didn’t finish everything and he knew he’d have to explain it to the teacher. This was a big enough deal for him to help motivate him the next day.
Simply Stacie shares 7 steps to homework success.
10. If the work takes too long, dig into what is slowing him down.
Is it the sheer quantity? Is lots of reading slowing him down? Does he need to break it up into smaller chunks? Can he do a little before dinner and then finish up before bed?
Talk to the teacher if necessary for ideas.
11. Use interactive tools.
12. Show that you have confidence in him.
Tell him you can see that homework is challenging and you have faith in him. Let him overhear you bragging to someone else how much he read last night or how many math problems he got right. Kids adore encouragement – they’ll eat it up and rise to your positive expectations.
13. Empower him to do the work as much as possible on his own.
Don’t be his crutch. Instead, be his coach. Don’t drag him through every problem, but do help him stay on track if his attention starts to wander.
14. Consider using essential oils to promote healthy focus and concentration.
Here’s my favorite EO blend for homework. You can also diffuse these oils instead of applying them topically.
15. Does your kid relish a challenge?
Some kids do well if you set a timer and ask them how many problems they can do in 5 minutes. They work 10 times as fast once they have a challenge. The Time Timer offers a fun way to let kids race the clock. (Other kids HATE this pressure so know your own kid!)
16. Consider a couple fidget toys.
If your kid tends to fidget while he’s studying, Crazy Aaron’s Super Scarab Putty or a Pull and Stretch Bounce Ball might be a huge hit. When hands are busy, brains relax and open up to all kinds of creative thinking.
17. Create a good work environment.
My kids like to work in the kitchen, but other boys may need a quieter place. Look for distractions. Maybe you need to clear off the kitchen table first or make sure no music or TV is playing in the background. You might even want to invest in noise-cancelling headphones.
See this awesome DIY Ikea homework station from Your Modern Family for inspiration.
18. Direct praise toward his efforts, not his results.
Say “wow – you worked so hard on that page! That must feel good.” Don’t say “Good job on that perfect paper.” Help him learn to enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done. You don’t want him to become a perfectionist.
Focus on specific details and his efforts. Say things like “I’m proud of you for pushing through to finish that math page.” or “I can see how carefully you’re working on your handwriting.”
See Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for a fascinating explanation of why this kind of praise is helpful and saying vague things like “Good job!” actually harms kids’ motivation.
19. Get him a planner and teach him how to use it.
Our school provides planners for the kids and they do a fabulous job of teaching some great planning skills. The kids jot down all their assignments, tests and homework assignments in their planners.
20. Ask him to teach you the concept he’s working on.
He’ll enjoy being the teacher for a change and cement in tough concepts at the same time.