The homework game

They say that no two children are the same, which is pretty obvious, but it took me a long time to realise that it applied to siblings as well. Now I know that I have three children who are three individuals, with different needs, personalities, quirks, strengths and weaknesses. And I’m absolutely fine with it.

The trouble with their being so different is that you never stop learning.Each child feels like the first in many respects. Which brings me to school and how different my older two are in this respect.

My eldest has just started middle school but so far it feels like she’s coping well with her school and homework, has made new friends, keeps up with the usual preteen drama (always the drama with my eldest!) and says she is happy and loves her school and teachers.

My second has had a slightly more turbulent transition to primary school from kindergarten. It’s a difficult change for most five-year-olds. They go from learning through play in a classroom full of toys, play kitchens and crafts to having to sit down quietly as they learn how to read and write and take in a lot of new information on a daily basis. [side note: I hugely admire the teachers who spend their days teaching children this age. It can’t be easy and I would never be able to do it.]

I vaguely remember my eldest struggling to adjust to the new dynamics at this age, but she’s very outgoing and has always loved school, so that phase must have lasted a few days at most. With my second, it took a little longer but she’s starting to enjoy it too. The only thing she was still struggling with was the dreaded homework. All she wanted to do when she came home was to play. She wanted to cook pretend meals, put her baby doll to sleep and talk to Barbie over her plastic phone. Sitting down again to write was the last thing she wanted to do.

Then I had an idea.

What if doing her homework became part of her playtime? She is very big on pretend play and changes name and personality at least five times during the course of the day, so I just threw another one her way.

Everyday, when it’s time to do her homework, I sneak off to another room and call our home phone from my mobile. Knowing it’s time for homework and that our game is about to start, she answers the phone and our conversation begins. I put on a foreign accent and place my ‘order’, to be collected urgently. Some days it’s a page of the letter b and others a page of the number 3, or whatever homework she has been given at school. So far she has received orders from Egypt, France, Italy, England and China (the most popular one to date). As soon as her ‘client’ hangs up, she sits down at her ‘office’ and gets to work. So far, it has worked a treat. Not only does she do her work in a few minutes with a smile on her face, but she usually continues practising her letters and numbers on one of her many notebooks.

Do you have any tricks or tips to get your children to do their homework happily? I’d love to keep a few more tricks up my sleeve for when she gets tired of this game!



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