Chances are your teen would rather be anywhere else than sitting at the table doing homework. Let's face it -- homework can not only be exhausting but also tedious. The solution: find ways to make studying fun, no matter the subject. If you think that's impossible, think again. The key is being flexible, making use of resources and thinking outside the box.
1 Let your teen design his own "study zone." This could be a corner of his own room, the living room or maybe even the attic -- where he could have his own private study. Offer to pay for a few things, like a desk, a lamp and some decorations, but let your teen choose everything. The more fun and quirky the items he buys, the better. The point is to make the space fun so he will want to retire there and feel inspired to work.
2 Encourage your teen to create a list of fun break ideas. These should be things he could do in 10 or 15 minutes, when taking a break from studying. Ideally, he should be taking a short break every hour. Options could include reading a book or magazine, playing a game, going for a walk or just stretching, playing with the dog or calling a friend. These quick breaks will help ease the stress of studying so it doesn't feel like a long chunk of time stuck to the desk.
3 Tell your teen he's welcome to invite a friend or two so they can study together. Ask in advance what the homework is so you can check that it's actually been done by the time the meeting is over. Otherwise, your teen might be tempted to just gossip the afternoon away instead of studying. If you can be sure things are getting done, let him study in a group.
4 Ask about what he's studying or take him somewhere he can experience the topic first-hand. Living-history museums are a good start, but don't stop there -- go camping to help with biology or put your teen in charge of calculating a hiking trail and distance to help make math more real. You can also use online tools such as Real World Math, where teens can use Google Earth to learn real-world applications of math.
5 Head to the library or look online for videos covering the topics your teen is studying. Companies such as the Discovery Channel, PBS and others make educational videos on almost every topic you can think of -- many of which probably match what your teen is studying. Visual learning could make things not only more entertaining but also a lot easier.
- Don't discourage any ideas just because they don't sound like something you would do. For example, if your teen says he can study better with music on, let him try it -- even if your original impression is that it would be too distracting. As long as he finishes his homework, let him work his own environment and routine.
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images