How do you get your 2nd grader to focus on homework?

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How do I get my 2nd grade son to focus on his weekly homework? It really should only take 30 minutes to do his writing, and 30 minutes to do his math. Which I separate into two different nights. He has two younger brothers who don't have homework. He has a nice desk in his room where he can go and be away from distraction, but he tends to distract himself anyway. Sometimes I do it with him, or I remind him he can play once it is done, but he doesn't get it. Last night I resorted to threatening to take him out of school during the Valentine's party today if it wasn't done by 7:30. He got it done. I don't want to threaten him all the time though, but it seems to work for him. I welcome any other thoughts. This is my first year of having a child with regular homework demands that are actually independent work.

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Heather - posted on 02/16/2010

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Hi Natalie, I'm a mom, and I also teach special ed. In my home, we have a similar routine like many of the posts already here. My kids come home from school, get a snack, and take out anything I need to see. We talk about their day, and I try to stress what was best about their day. I think it's important for them to have time to relax and play for an hour or so before homework--to kind of decompress. My kids do best if they're at the kitchen table as they do their homework. I monitor them and help them stay on task. Sometimes at home, and often at school, I use a reward goal for finishing work. I like reward charts, so my kids and my students can see their goal. Art is a wonderful motivator, or you could try a special activity with YOU. This works for me.

As a teacher, I like to accent the positive by encouraging and praising. Simple words like, "you are really good at that, I'll bet your mom would love to see your finished paper." or "when you're finished, I'm going to put that paper on the bulliton board." My students and kids love it when I hang up their work.

Your son may be too young to self-motivate alone in his room. This is a learned skill. It might help to talk to your son's teacher. She may have ideas that she has used in class that have helped him. It would also be interesting to know if this is a behavior at school as well as at home. If it's only a home behavior, I'd guess it's a problem with working alone in a room with all kinds of fun distractions.

Like you, I don't like to motivate with threats. It's easy, and often works, but I believe if it is used often, it damages self-esteem and eventually stops working. I would much rather build up a child.

Good luck! Please consider contacting your son's teacher. We appreciate parents who care.

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Deb - posted on 02/17/2010

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I have a son who is almost 11, in 5th grade. He HAS to do 1/2 his homework on Sat morn & 1/2 on Sun morn. As soon as he gets up. No TV, No DS, No computer (unless its for school) until its done. I just check for how much is done. He wants to play, so it gets done in a jiffy !! I have been VERY consistant with this, no excuses accepted. It's now his routine & I don't usually have to argue with him. He's in a Spanish Immersion Program, so he usually has a packet of at least 10 pages to do. He's been doing this since 1st grade. Good Luck :) Deb

Martie - posted on 02/16/2010

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I used the Kitchen timer. One that ticks. My son has ADD and the ticking seems to keep him from going off into space. I started with little chunks of time and built up to larger times.

Janet - posted on 02/14/2010

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Have him at the kitchen table and ask him to get started on the hardest work to get it out of the way first. Then take a break and let him get up and have a snack and a drink and work on the other work . When he gets it all done keep track with a chart or stickers that he can put on by himself then when he gets so many treat him . A day at the park with a packed lunch, go to the zoo what ever.

Anne - posted on 02/12/2010

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Hi Natalie, have you thought about using a kitchen timer and like Victoria said having him doing his home work where you can keep an eye on him. You might want to break the 30 minutes of each subject into smaller chunks of time, with a small break in between the times set on the timer. Also a reward chart might help. If he gets his home work done in a given amount of time or with out you having to remind him to stay focused he would get a star or sticker on his chart. At the end of a predetermined number of days he would get a reward that would encourage him to earn the stars. I hope this helps.

Sarah - posted on 02/12/2010

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We have a routine in our house of.....get home from school, get a snack, get out school stuff (any papers I need to see, their agenda, and what they have for homework), then we start with homework right after snack (or during if eating something that you can do both with). I like this because everything is fresh in their head from school, so when working on things they remember what they talked about in school. We would also tend to have some kind of sporting event going on in the evenings, so this way it got homework done and out of the way. The down side of it is I know sometimes they just need down time from school work for a little bit. I remember when I was little our routine was that we could do 30 mins. TV and then we had to do homework. I think the key is just having the same routine/schedule from day to day. I also find that it is easier for them to stay focused if they are doing it in an area where you can be around, like the kitchen table. I know this might be harder with little ones running around. I find with my daughter she does not like me always helping her, but she does like to do it at the table rather than her room. Maybe to help with keeping the little ones occupied they could color or draw (if age wise that works). I do day care and one thing that my daughter enjoyed doing was reading to the kids. The kids enjoyed it and this got our reading assignment done for the night. Not sure if this is a possiblity, but is there a way that you could divide the homework up even more. So instead of 30 mins. 2 nights a week he does 15 mins. 4 nights a week. It makes more nights but less time that he would need to focus at a time. Hope that helps a little. Best of luck.

Victoria - posted on 02/12/2010

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We have this trouble with my oldest in grade 3, she has 2 younger sisters who don't really get home work (JK and SK). We tend to get her to sit at the kitchen table while I make supper, then I can help with any problems and if she get distracted I can remind her to focus. I find she focuses better if I let her take 30 mins when she get in to just relax have a snack and watch TV or play with her sisters. After which I settle her down with her work. The only thing she really does alone in her room is her daily reading (fiction/ non-fiction) & her daily devotional bible reading & prayer time. She usually has about an hour of homework most everyday and more if she doesn't finish work at school. I let her take little stretch breaks in between each subject. I get her to do the easier ones first and then sit down and help her with the ones she has a bit more trouble with like French. We have threatened her with lose of privileges in the past and followed through with grounding from a birthday party and such, but we find it better when she works for rewards. If you get all your homework done this week at the end of the week we'll go to the dollar store for a treat, or you'll get to choose desert on Sunday. This seems to motivate her quite well most of the time. I hope this helps somewhat. ;)

Amy - posted on 02/12/2010

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My son ia an only child. We have that trouble too. Last year was the worst. He has 2 math papers every night, a spelling paper and had to read a book for his reading classes. We have a routine and when he comes hime he must get his homework done. Ge can not play with friends untill he homework gets done. End of October when it is dark by 5 pm we let him play first with his friends and then homework. This seems to work out really well. Now when spring hits it will be homework first then play so we will see how that works. Hope this helps.

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