getting teenagers to do homework

Motivating your teenager do their homework

Tears, thinly veiled threats and slammed doors (and that’s just the parents) – there’s no denying that homework and revision can become something of a battleground for parents and teenage offspring. While many young people willingly get on with studying after school, reluctance to tackle assignments is also fairly common.

Parenting is obviously critical to how children perform in school, so the right attitude towards homework is key. Be subtle in your approach, rather than constantly nagging. Don’t be tempted to take over and complete your child’s assignments for them. Even continual interruptions with offers of tea can be disruptive, however kindly meant.

Get teenagers to do homework


Here’s how you can help your teenager take responsibility for organising (and actually doing!) their homework.

  • Remember why it’s set

Homework has three main aims – extending classroom learning, giving students the chance to boost their independence and showing young people how to manage deadlines and workload for themselves.

  • Get the homework habit

Everyone’s different. Some learners want to get their studying done almost immediately after the final bell; others prefer to chill out first. Try not to interfere as your child finds out for themselves how they work best. Let them discover the hard way why leaving things to the last minute isn’t the best idea!

Agree with them when they should start their homework each evening and when it should be finished, and encourage sticking to this routine. Older children may have to study for up to two and a half hours independently, so a good approach is to gently encourage an early start with regular breaks factored in during the evening.

Many schools have a homework diary or similar for parents to sign daily – if your child’s school has one, make this part of your routine.

  • Creating the right environment

Having the right environment for homework is clearly important. A proper desk, good lighting and a quiet background – these things may sound basic, but your teen will struggle to focus without them. And if your son or daughter likes studying to music, it may be wise just to let them do so (here’s a link to The Learning Cauldron’s specially chosen lyric-free revision soundtrack). While research shows a music-free environment can hinder academic performance, let students find this out for themselves rather than swooping repeatedly on their earphones.

If home isn’t the best place for your child to study, perhaps because it’s simply too busy, discuss alternatives – such as a library or school-based homework or lunchtime study club. Equally, studying with a friend or even in a coffee shop could work well as an occasional change.

  • Being generally supportive

Chat to your teen about what they’re working on, talk around the subject and try to help without doing the work for them. It’s nice if you can discuss something you both enjoy, but even if you don’t understand the topic yourself, you can still listen and suggest where they might find any information they need.

Talk about organising homework sensibly, and how to schedule multiple assignments so they are all completed on time.

  • Work with the school

Find out how the school can help. Can some work be completed online, for example? If it’s needed, request support sooner rather than later. Likewise, if your son or daughter has any specific learning issues, talk to relevant staff promptly so any additional requirements regarding homework are met.

Finally, remember to praise your teenager for putting in the hours and effort, whatever grades they come home with. The truth is that not everyone can be an A* student; for some young people, finding the focus to complete homework at all is a feat worthy of genuine recognition. Setting realistic parental expectations will avoid you feeling (unjustifiably) disappointed – while ensuring that your teenager doesn’t feel (wrongly) that they have let you down…


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