Not only is it Monday, which is Family Happiness Tip day here at AndreaReiser.com, but it’s also my kids’ first day of school. So today’s tip, which is something that has worked for our family and you’re welcome to try with your own, concerns homework habits.
This week’s tip is: homework comes before free time. No exceptions. Now, I’ll tell you that I implemented this policy as soon as the kids started getting homework, back in early elementary school. I’ve always been a big believer that even if the kids had six hours before bed and only half an hour of homework, they should tackle it before engaging in the fun stuff (although I know it’s not necessarily a prudent policy for every kind of kid). I figured the earlier I taught them the importance of getting it done, the more the habit would be ingrained, and that’s actually how it has turned out in our household. With three guys in high school and one in his last year of middle school, I have virtually nothing to do with their homework schedule aside from one question when they get home and another if they’re hanging out in front of the TV later in the evening: 1) Do you have a lot of work tonight?; and 2) Did you finish all your work?
This tip teaches kids to prioritize responsibly because their best efforts will be going toward the tasks with lasting value. Yes, your kids may complain that you’re being “unfair” and they might make a fairly cogent argument for playing now and working later—mine sure used to! But I learned to stand firm unless there were truly extraordinary circumstances afoot. This way, their concentration and energy levels aren’t compromised by tiredness—and they’re learning valuable habits that I can confirm will serve them well in high school, college and beyond.