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WE ALL know teenagers should do their homework if they want to succeed at secondary school - but that doesn't mean they will do it willingly, on time or even at all.

Which is why parents often use a variety of tactics, ranging from helpful, to annoying to downright counterproductive, in an attempt to persuade adolescents to just get it done.

So what's the best approach? Dr Kate Jenkins, psychology consultant at online platform MyTutor (, says: "Homework helps teachers track progress and crucially helps students to fully understand what they're learning.

"But getting teens to do their homework - that's not so clear cut. Every night, parents across the country deploy a bunch of different tactics to help kids knuckle down.

"Of course, different teens respond well to different approaches. There are lots of different ways you can support their schoolwork - and some make for more positive family relationships than others."

Here, Dr Jenkins outlines five homework supervision styles - and how to make them effective.

1. THE NAGGER NO matter how many times you remind them to do something, it can still seem to go in one ear and out the other. Nagging inevitably produces resistance, especially in adolescents. So while you're just desperate to see your teen get some work done before bedtime, often the more you ask, the less likely they might be to do it.

Try framing the benefits of getting the work done - and do it once, saying something like: 'By getting this chemistry homework done, you'll know what the teacher's talking about tomorrow so you'll be more confident.' 2. THE NEGOTIATOR FOR kids incentivised not by the joy of learning, but by treats, you might find yourself striking deals as if you're Lord Alan Sugar and they're a contestant on The Apprentice. This can work for a bit, but for teens to really learn the study skills they need in adulthood, they'll eventually need to learn how to motivate themselves.

By bribing your teen to do work, it removes the positive reinforcement of just feeling good that you've done your best.

Try to connect completing homework with emotional value or their aspirations, saying things like 'You'll be able to relax once your homework's done', or 'This will give you some good notes when revision comes around'.

3. THE HELPER YOU know your teen's struggling with one of their subjects, so you see whether you can help. If you use one of their subjects in your day-to-day work, you think, how hard can a GCSE be? Sometimes a parent helping out can be a way for parent and teen to bond over a shared activity.

Most of the time, though, questions don't look like they did when you were at school. Your stress can rub off on them.

This can be confusing for your child, who's trying to reconcile one method taught at school with your method. If your child needs help, get them to identify the areas they don't understand and make a list of questions to take to a teacher for extra help.

4. THE TIMEKEEPER PARENTING can often feel like a full-time military operation, and no army is complete without a strict schedule. So that's home by 4pm, snack till 4.15pm, chemistry till 5.15pm. It's how Britain won the war, and how you'll win the homework battle, right? Structure can really help a teen become more organised, but the flipside of enforcing a timetable is that if they feel too pressured, they're more likely to push against your clock-watching.

Homework has to be a collaborative.

The child needs to know you're there for support if they need you, but in their teens they can start to adopt a more mature attitude towards homework. So if they feel you trust and support them, they'll feel empowered to take the initiative themselves.

5.THE CHEERLEADER ENCOURAGING and praising your child can be a really effective way to get them to apply themselves.

Lots of teens struggle with confidence, and anxiety around schoolwork is one of the biggest blockers to doing their best. Especially as they approach exams, a fear they're not clever enough can stop them from getting their heads down to work at all.

Try talking about what their anxiety centres around. Do they feel unprepared? Is it the quantity, or the nature of the work? By pinpointing the cause of their worry, then together you can work out how to overcome it.

If they can tell their teacher they're finding things tricky, their school might also help.

In any case, reminding your child what they're good at, what makes them special, and that you support them no matter how they do in exams is a powerful way to give them the confidence they need to face the music (or rather, the homework).


If your child feels overwhelmed it might be worth asking their teacher for extra support

Doctor Kate Jenkins, psychology consultant

It can be a constant battle to get children to buckle down and do their homework
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2020
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