Homework time is notoriously a common battleground between parents and kids. You want your child to do well in school, and homework is a big part of that. You probably also want your home to be peaceful and your interactions with your child to be pleasant after a long day of school and work. By implementing a few smart ideas into your homework routine, you can get the best of both worlds.

1. Start With a Snack

The after-school snack is a classic for a reason. Before diving in on schoolwork, make sure kids get a well-balanced snack. It will keep their blood sugar steady and improve their focus and mood. If you need fresh ideas, spice up your snack game with something trendy, like avocado toast, or try out an old classic like ants-on-a-log.

2. Get Creative With Your Materials

Sometimes the right materials are all that is needed to level up homework motivation. Surprise your kids or let them pick out some fun additions to their normal school supplies. Younger kids may enjoy fun erasers or decorative pencils. Creative and color-loving kids of all ages may benefit from some fun highlighters or the right collection of colorful gel pens. Let their tools be an extension of their personality to feel like they are bringing their best selves to their assignments.

3. Work With All of Their Senses

Young kids especially benefit from integrating their senses into their learning, but people of all ages learn better when they involve multiple senses. Experiment with offering added support to each of their five senses. Try out essential oils to help improve focus or a sense of calm. Play classical music or a neutral white noise to buffer against distractions. If you have a child who needs to move, try replacing their chair with an exercise ball or taking frequent movement breaks. Changing scenery can help too; if the weather is nice, head outside to work for a while.

4. Split Things Up

For kids with a heavier homework load or a short attention span, be sure to take frequent short breaks. Help them to prioritize their assignments and make a plan before diving in. Set timers or make a checklist of assignments and sections, and then encourage them to take a healthy break after each segment. Get some fresh air, move, or chat about something non-school-related to help them refresh before getting back to work.

5. Be Available

Even an independent and capable student benefits from knowing help is available if they need it. Try not to hover, but be nearby if possible. Let your child know that you are confident about their ability to accomplish their work, but that you are also there if they have questions or need someone to bounce ideas off. Feeling overwhelmed is not a good way to have fun with homework, and having someone in their corner can help keep their stress in check.

Homework can be challenging for many families, but there’s no reason to stay stuck in a rut. Be creative in shaking things up. A little fun can go a long way to improving the homework routine for everyone.