07/05/2013 09:13 BST | Updated 06/07/2013 06:12 BST

When Kids Are So Eager to Do Homework They're Beating Each Other

Once I got over my kids' homework anxiety, we found a new problem. There are three of them and one of me. They were getting so eager to do grammar exercises, and equations, that they were literally beating each other.


And then I woke up and realised it was all a dream...

No, seriously. They were fighting each other to do homework. Breakfast time maths quizzes turned into Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto Del Rio, with them drop-kicking, brain-busting and choke-slamming each other into oblivion. There were cornflakes up the walls. Once I'd wiped the milk off my face, I decided something had to be done.

When kids are fighting because they all want to do maths practice - or grammar - with you, it's a nice problem to have. But also one you need to solve. What if you're handling your kids solo, and there's no one else there to get the offender(s) in a headlock so you can carry on?

When Doing A Quiz

Problem: you're cooking, or you're driving and you're also doing a fun quiz - on times tables or whatever. Older siblings get competitive and end up squashing the younger one's confidence or each other's faces. Everyone is shouting out of turn.

Solution: before you start, explain the rules. Take turns, in order. If kids shout out of turn, they skip a go. Give questions appropriate to each age range, linked where possible, e.g. age 4-6: addition (1+1, 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, 5+5); age 8-9: numbers squared (2x2, 3x3, 4x4, 5x5); age 10-12: multiplying fractions (½ x ½, ⅓ x ⅓, ¼ x ¼, ⅕ x ⅕). For those of you who aren't sure what ½ x ½ = it's ¼. You just multiply across the bottom, so ⅕ x ⅕= one twenty-fifth. Get more fun maths stuff to do with kids age 6-12 here, with pictures so you can see what we did.

When Sitting Helping One of Your Kids

Problem: the others are going berserk and your neighbours are about to call the Police.

Solution: make them all sit down and 'work with you' at the same time. Give one your full attention. Let the others work independently on something like handwriting, spelling, or grammar exercises. Explain they will each get a turn to have your full attention. If they do misbehave, 'count' them (see below).

To make sure they do what they're supposed to, use 1-2-3 Magic. It's not a maths textbook, it's a sweet, simple discipline system that's as easy as counting to three. And yes, it really is magic. Pick up a copy and get some excellent tips on how to 'count' kids, motivate, and instil self-discipline in them. You might also like this link on how to use computers to get your kids to do whatever you need them to.

Check my site for more fun, free ways to help kids: