The school year has just begun; we all know that homework is looming around the corner-if it hasn't already arrived on your coffee table. Unfortunately, we are not always met with profound enthusiasm from our kids when we decree "homework time!" in our cheeriest of voices. We are all too familiar with the challenges of motivating our kids to stay on top of their work.

The homework battle is one that we are all too accustomed to fighting, but what if it didn't have to be such a struggle? There is no simple answer to this parenting challenge. However, there are some things you can do to help put down the scimitars so everyone can get some work done.

  1. Set a homework schedule
    I know. You have ten thousand things to do, half of them on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and wait-are we out of milk? Despite the ever-evolving to-do list, it is helpful to try to set a specific time for homework every day. However, if like many of us, you can't set a specific time for homework, then you may want to set a minimum time limit. Giving a non-negotiable minimum time might help them get through without rushing. If they're done before the time is up, then they can read or reorganize their backpack (which we all know could star on an episode of Hoarders). They have to sit there until the time or work is done, whichever comes last. There are lots of options out there to help you set a consistent routine, and it will depend on your family and your child's needs.
  2. Develop a homework space
    Depending on the space in your home, you may want to have a designated "homework zone" that is free of television or other distractions so that they aren't tempted to spend their homework time zoning out. Make sure the space has everything they might need: pencils, a drink, and a snack. Additionally, every kid learns in differently, so you may need to evaluate what your child's learning style is. If you're not sure what your child's learning style is, there are several websites that are linked below.
    Information about Learning Styles
    Quiz to Determine Learning Style 
  3. Communicate with the teacher
    If your school has an online source for checking grades, you can also avoid the end-of-quarter surprises. Your child's teachers are on your side, and always want your child to be successful. If you see a consistent issue with turning in work, you may want to ask if they have seen any systems that are helpful to encourage students to turn in work on a timely basis.
  4. Get involved!
    Frequently, part of the homework battle occurs because students procrastinate (which they did NOT inherit from us, right?) If there is a big assignment coming up then they may need help designating part of the daily homework time to the upcoming assignment. Time management tends to be a struggle for most people, but especially for students who are still learning how to juggle numerous responsibilities. If parents step in and help them navigate the seemingly endless assignments, it will encourage them to stay the course.
  5. Celebrate the successes
    It's so easy for us to only give attention to their school work when there is a problem. It's the end-goal to make our children life-long learners who learn for the sake of learning and are intrinsically motivated. That being said, we all want to work a little harder if our bosses notice and reward us when things are going well. Our kids are no different: make a point to celebrate the small victories. Be creative with small, random rewards you can give them when you see that they have managed two straight weeks with no zeroes in the gradebook. It's amazing the joy and motivation brought by a little sugar or an impromptu pizza night.

As parents, we want to instill a work ethic and a sense of academic confidence in our children. Not only is hard work a good idea, it's an idea that came to us straight from the Lord.

Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters," God has called us to raise up our children in a manner that brings Him glory, which includes doing everything as if we were "working for the Lord."