School Stories #10 – How I got my son to do his homework without nagging

I have been struggling to get #5 to do his homework on time. To be fair, he has come a long way from P1 where he would just dump his school bag at the entrance and promptly forget about it until the next morning when it’s time to pick it up again for school.

This year in P3, he has finally ‘woken up’ and will remember that he has homework. However, for the past 2 weeks, his homework has been getting progressively more difficult and he has been dragging it later and later and by bedtime, he would be rushing to get it finished.

These were the instructions I used to bark at him:

  • Quickly finish your homework.
  • Stop playing and do your homework now!
  • No going to the playground until all your homework is done.

The usual scenario was that he would start on his homework but get distracted by the going-ons around him – Kate playing with her toys, grandparents or cousins dropping by, or anything interesting the other kids are doing.

I was getting frustrated at having to nag at him every single day and was “complaining” to my ex-neighbours at breakfast. They have boys who are older than mine and immediately, they could see where my problem was.

  1. Instructions not specific enough
  2. Boundary too wide
  3. Rule not enforced
They explained that even though he was not allowed to go to the playground, he could still entertain himself with so much at home. They advised me to narrow the boundary. This is how they handle their sons.

  • Back from school
  • Lunch
  • Rest 15 minutes
  • Sit at the study table until all homework and “mummy’s work” is done.
  • Only allowance is to go to the toilet
  • If they take their own sweet time and it stretches on till dinner time, so be it. Dinner will be served at their study table.

When #5 came back, I was brimming with excitement to try it out on him. I was a mummy on a mission.

After his lunch, I told him in a  firm tone.

No moving from this square until all homework is completed (I used my finger to draw an imaginary boundary).”

I allow him to do his homework in the living room because at least I can keep an eye on him while watching over Kate and heating up lunch/chatting with the older girls when they trickle home. If I let him go up to his own room, he will most likely end up playing with his toys. No, make that definitely.

You know what? I couldn’t believe it. It worked like magic!

He sat there for 2 hours doing his homework. He got tired of sitting on the chair and moved down to the floor. Kate came downstairs after her nap and as usual, he immediately went and played with her. I decided that a 15 minute break was in order and told him so. After that, he went back into his “square” for another hour until all his homework was finished.

Just a change in instructions was all I needed! My, my, if only I had known that earlier.

I have been staying at home for the past week to enforce my boundary and rule (at least for a period of time until he is able to get into the routine and gradually require less supervision). Previously, I gave him instructions but I would either be upstairs or out of the house. And of course, when the cat is out, the mouse does nothing but play.

Now, I sit at the dining table and keep a hawk’s eye on him. Thank goodness for laptops. I’ll probably have more time to blog now 😉
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School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English
#12 – DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped
#13 – Tuition – First line of attack?
#14 – Why do exams have to be so stressful?
#15 – First day mix up!
#16 – The day I forgot to pick my son from school
#17 – No more T-score. Now what?
#18 – Tackling the new school year
#19 – She did it, without tuition.
#20 – So who’s smarter?
#21 – Why I do not coach my kids anymore.



~ –  a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~