“Homework is an integral part of the learning process,” says Richard E. Bavaria, Ph.D., vice president of education for Sylvan Learning Center. “It allows children to be proactive with their work and allows teachers the chance to extend lessons from class.”

The good news is there are many ways you can get your teenager motivated to do his homework. But be sure to treat him like the adult he will soon be.
  1. Relate assignments to the “bigger picture.” You’ve probably heard the questions: “Why do I have to do this?” or “When am I ever going to use this?” Explain how different assignments are applicable to real life and how they are used by people in various careers.

    “As often as possible, parents should show how school work can be related to adult life,” Bavaria says. “When teenagers see their parents reading, writing or balancing their checkbook, they see how school relates to real life.”

  2. Reward progress. As children get older, we sometimes forget that they desire praise and reward. A sticker or a piece of candy will no longer do the trick, but a night out using the family car or $10 to go to the movies will be greatly appreciated by a teen who has gone the extra mile.

  3. Help your teen prioritize assignments. In high school, there are many long projects and papers rather than short worksheet assignments. This can be overwhelming, especially if your teen procrastinates. To avoid this, help her prioritize assignments based on due date, length and the percentage of the final grade.

    “Prioritizing has to do with time management,” Bavaria says. “Teenagers lead very busy lives, and in order to balance this we all know time management is important. The earlier teens learn this valuable skill the better they will be at it when they get older.”

  4. Find a homework tutor. Many parents feel frustrated when they can’t help their teen with homework. A helpful resource can be a tutoring center such as Sylvan Learning Center. Additionally, encourage your teen to go to school early or stay late to ask questions. The teacher will be able to tailor assignments and will notice the extra effort.

  5. Don’t argue or bargain. Teens will try to bargain their way out of homework. If they are able to get out of it once, they will keep trying. Let your teen know that there is no room for negotiation. Don’t let procrastination turn into a bad habit.

  6. Arrange for a peer study group. Encourage your teen to form a study group of friends or neighborhood peers.

    “Research shows that when children study together it can improve retention,” Bavaria says. “It makes learning active rather than passive and encourages communication.”

    However, Bavaria says parents should be aware of what is happening within the study group. “The one caveat is that study groups need to be monitored.”

  7. Encourage your child’s hobbies. Is your teenager interested in fast cars, fighter planes or ships? Feed this interest with a new hobby in model building. If the pastime catches on, your child will be reinforcing good habits such as patience, precision and following instructions. This also will give your child something constructive to look forward to after doing homework.

  8. Provide a good atmosphere for studying. It’s hard to study if someone is in the next room watching “Seinfeld” reruns. Set a good example and read a book of your own while your high school student is studying. The more you minimize distractions, the easier it will be for him to finish homework quickly and accurately.

By Jenny Nordman