If something holds little interest for us, we tend to feel fatigued, and perhaps we make more mistakes as we engage in that activity. Word problems involving baseball statistics are of interest to the Little League player, but would be tedious for the soccer enthusiast.
Sometimes adults can raise the interest level by relating the assignment to something practical or of interest to the student. So, for example math problems involving interest can be framed as a way of knowing how much money your bank account is earning. Counting, addition and subtraction might be more accurate and less tiresome when it involves coins.
Discussing a topic in science such as friction and inertia, while rolling a ball with your student, gives it practical meaning, as does joining in the pre-reading activity of reading the title of a reading assignment out loud or making a game of guessing the topic of the story.
Parents and teachers can look at the pictures or headings in the story and comment on them with the child. “The kids don’t look happy about moving,” would be an observation based on a picture. Take turns with the child commenting on the illustrations. Suggest that reading the story or passage will help answer questions about what is happening. Sharing the activity of reading and thinking of some questions to be answered might generate some enthusiasm for the task. Even studying spelling words becomes more interesting when the words might be used to write a note to a favorite aunt or uncle, to write the grocery list, or to plan the birthday party.
To make homework time more efficient, have your student rank the assignments from most interesting to least. Suggest that she start with the least interesting assignment, explaining that it will take the most “mental energy” and we have more mental energy when we are beginning a task. Encourage short, timed breaks, with a reward at the end of the list of assignments.