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Homework Tip for Parents: Play Dates Made Productive!

I am all about playing. I think our kids have too much homework, too many activities and too little play. So I always take advantage of the sunshine and let my son play before homework or piano practice. If the kids are playing a neighborhood game of street hockey, I let my son drop his pencil and grab his stick. The opportunity for exercise can't be passed up!

Having said that, homework still needs to get done and on days when my son has a play date after school - or even worse a play date and then a lacrosse game in the evening! - homework is left until bedtime. Sometimes we get it done in time, but often he is too tired and cranky. So today I tried a tip I heard in the schoolyard, (yes we moms gather there too.) Have your kids do their homework together during their play date.

Yes, I got my son and his buddy to do their homework together! They did it three times as fast as they would have on their own and got right back to their playing. How did I manage to coral two eight year old boys to the table to do their homework, you ask? Well, it was actually easier than I expected.

  1. I led with the benefits – always a good approach for a tough sell. I asked the boys if they wanted to get their homework done together so they wouldn’t have to do it after the play date, highlighting the fact that it was much more fun to do it together than by themselves.
  2. Second, I fed them. I always need to give my son an energy boost after school. He is mentally exhausted and needs a break before he can refocus.
  3. Third, I gave them a play break before we started. For most parents, moving right into the homework works best. My neighbor has her daughter and friends do their homework during snack time. But my son has ADHD and is “done” after school. He needs a break to refresh his weary mind.
  4. Finally, with satisfied stomachs and recharged minds, I called the boys to the table. They quickly did their work and then returned to their play.

What a relief it was to have homework finished and the rest of the night for play and family time. All my son had left to do after dinner was practice the piano. This idea may not go over with every play date. But I am definitely going to do it as often as I can. It worked like a charm and we all played better when it was done.

What about you? What homework tips do you have?


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