Original Post: Help – 2nd grader lover going to school and does well academically, but refuses to do his homework. It’s “boring”, and “teachers invented it to make everyone’s life boring”. Any ideas would be appreciated. This applies to all homework, including math that he generally likes.
Member response: Do you think some non conventional interventions might entice him?
Doing his homework under the table. Challenging him to do three math problems upside down in 3 minutes. Teaching you how to do the homework.
I know routine is part of the long term solution but some engaging brain activity to get started helps.
Member response: Why does he have homework? Is it class work he doesn’t finish? What I’ve heard lately is that homework in elementary isn’t all that beneficial. Kids need time to play after school. Not sure how to push back politely, but it’s something to consider.
Rachel’s response: I love all of the comments you’ve received already. I agree that it’s important to find the right time of day and the right routine.
I will also say that I used to work with kids for whom homework was “boring” all the time. And it’s not just a complaint. Remember, kids’ brains are wired for simulation, novelty, and engagement, so when they’re trying to focus on homework (especially when it’s something that is either too easy or too hard, so not engaging), their brains are easily distracted by anything that is more stimulating. And it becomes torture to try to focus.
The way to handle this is to teach him how to engage himself in the task. I love the suggestions that previously made (especially Challenging him to do three math problems upside down in 3 minutes. Teaching you how to do the homework.). I also used to teach kids how to incorporate their bodies into assignments (walking around while memorizing, hanging upside down, sitting on a wobbly chair, holding a fidget toy or sensory strip). You can also have him do things like do 2 math problems and walk around his chair twice, then do 3 math problems and walk around his chair three times, etc. He may also benefit from listening to music (yes, music without lyrics can actually help with focus!) or incorporate mnemonics or drawing pictures into his assignments (especially with things like spelling), which will engage his brain in the activity.
Definitely brainstorm some ideas with him. The more engaging, the better.
Member response: When are you trying to get him to do the homework and what is everyone else doing? We’ve found that if we let my daughter come home and watch a show or do something else for an hour, that helps. Also, letting her help plan when she’s going to do it helps. She doesn’t like to feel like she’s missing out on other things so either having her do it while we’re making dinner and she’s at the counter or sitting down to read or do something quiet while she does her work helps.
Member response: I think that threatening to take things away (as tempting as it is) doesn’t lay the groundwork for making homework a positive interaction. We’ve found that praising our “hardworking girl” and having overheard conversations about how proud we are of her doing her homework is helpful. Also, when my daughter was having a hard time doing her reading, it helped a lot when I told her it was okay that she didn’t love reading.
Member response: So last night my daughter and I came home late and she still had homework to do. We opened the door and found that the dog had diarrhea on the living room carpet. I announced “Anyone not doing homework can help me clean up poop.” I’ve never seen her sit down with her book so quickly 😂
Member response: I have had luck with my second grader by not having him do it right when he gets home but after going outside to play for about an hour or so. I think being outside and getting his after school energy out leaves him ready to sit and get it done. So far so good…but I am sure like everything else as soon as I feel like I have something down he’ll be on to me 😉
Member response: I love your ideas for making homework (or any boring/unengaging task) more interesting, or at least bearable, by changing the environment slightly to focus on novelty, challenge, etc. This doesn’t just help kids! Lately, I’ve been realizing more and more that I have a tendency to force myself to complete tasks I truly dislike, such as washing dishes or paying bills, simply because they have to be done. I end up resenting those tasks and even avoiding them for as long as I can, allowing unnecessary stress and guilt to pile on. I have never found cleaning tasks to be calming or therapeutic no matter how many times I hoped it would be true or tried to feel it, haha. And, those tasks still need to happen so the household can function. Now, with this shift in mindset – to stop forcing myself to do things I don’t enjoy and instead to approach them with curiosity to see if there are small tweaks or changes I can make to bring a sense of novelty, challenge, meaning, etc. – I can already feel a sense of ease and exploration unfolding. It might be fun to wash dishes while standing on a balance board 😉