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Parent blog: Stop nagging kids about homework

Julie Poppen is a journalist, an editor and writer for Education News Colorado and the mother of a fifth-grader, who grumbled about homework before going to bed last night.

In case you haven’t already figured out that nagging doesn’t work on kids, consider new findings from researchers at the University of Northern Colorado.

The study, by assistant professor of school psychology John Mark Froiland and doctoral student Aubrey Peterson, found that it’s far more effective to set positive expectations than to enter into a battle of wills. Not only that, parents who set the expectation that their kindergartener will ultimately succeed in college also set the stage for higher scores for that same child in math, reading and science in eighth grade.

The results were published in an article in School Psychology International, one of the leading educational psychology journals.

So, how do you set high expectations?

Reading to young children, expressing hopes that they do well in school and encouraging them to learn to help others are effective ways to set expectations and support academic success, researchers say.

Froiland and Peterson, along with a University of Minnesota colleague, analyzed data involving more than 7,600 parents and children nationwide in concluding that parent expectations had a stronger effect on achievement than various forms of home-based parental involvement, including checking on grades and homework.

Froiland offers these tips for parents to set expectations and support their children’s academic success.

Tips for homework success

  • Read to children ages 2 to 5 every day. Explain the meaning of vocabulary words and frequently visit the library together.
  • Express your hopes, from preschool to young adulthood, that your children will do well in school and pursue the highest degree they’re capable of.
  • Point them to the deeper purposes in learning – one of the greatest is to help others – throughout life.
  • Don’t continually harp on them about grades and homework. In middle school and high school, children often struggle with their independence and may perceive questions such as, “Don’t you think you should go study right now?” as controlling.
  • Don’t emphasize grades and other rewards so much that children lose sight of the real value of learning.
  • Don’t allow your children to associate you solely with pressure and demands. It’s important to keep the relationship strong by spending time with your children doing something pleasant. Show unconditional love so that they know that they are accepted by you regardless of how well they perform in school.

So there you go, folks. This should mark the end of your homework battles. (One can dream…) Let us know how you manage homework in your household and whether the strategy is working.

Image of mother helping her daughter with homework courtesy of Big Stock Photo.

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