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Avoiding Homework Battles (Part 1)

DistraughtMotherWithKidsIf you’re like most parents, you’re determined to start the school year in such a way that your children get into a good routine for the year. Here’s a slightly different way to approach homework:

Keep in mind the role you want to play in homework when your children are 16.

Me? I didn’t want to revisit trigonometry or precalculus, even though I coach math teachers, so from the start our goal was to ensure that our children took responsibility for their own homework. In this three-blog series, we’ll look at how Daniel Pink’s book Drive can help you develop self-motivated children through autonomy, mastery and purpose–the true keys to motivation.

First, autonomy. No matter how much YOU’D like to see homework done before dinner, insisting on a specific time of your choosing may be the fastest way to create homework battles ever devised. Instead, give your child a say. Make the boundaries clear regarding bedtime, their responsibilities for dinner or tidying-up chores, but then let them choose. Here’s how a sample conversation might go:

How long do you think it will take you to do your homework?

Maybe 30 minutes.

Okay, here’s the deal. Bedtime is at 8 no matter what. In between now and then, you also need to help set the table and take the dog for a walk and finish your homework. If you like setting your own schedule, make sure it’s all done by bedtime. As long as you show me you’re being responsible, you’re in charge of yourself. If at 7:20, you haven’t started homework, then I take over. And if you’ve underestimated how much time you need, I’ll have to help you estimate how long you need tomorrow.

So I can play first?

Yep, but the TV/computer/game limit is still 90 minutes. You can get your work out of the way and then enjoy the evening, or you can mix it all up. But if you aren’t ready for this much responsibility, I take over again.

Most children crave being in charge of themselves. Many need a bit of help learning to estimate how long everything will take. Next week, we’ll look at the role mastery plays in homework.

Jane Kise, Ed.D. – Educational Advisor and Consultant, 
Jane  writes an insightful post every Tuesday for Kidtelligent. Jane is an educational consultant, specializing in teambuilding, coaching, and school staff development. She is also the coauthor of more than 20 books. Jane’s website  is

  • space2live

    Ok you sold me on part 1. I will work with my ISTP son on building his autonomy/responsibility. I hope there is a part 2 and a part 3. I value your insight.