Monday, August 29, 2011

Preventing Homework Battles

I am always both sad and relieved to see summer end. I like spending time with my children during the summer and make sure we fit as many activities in as possible. By the time summer ends, I'm tired. But, tired in a good way, from playing and vacationing too much. This is where the relief sets in. I'm relieved to get my boys back in school and back on a schedule. However, I always dread the homework battles school brings. I never had to ask my daughter to do homework. She just did it. Imagine my surprise when my middle son had no desire to do homework. Not only that, I had to fight to get him to do it. My youngest son met me somewhere in the middle. What worked for one child, was a disaster for another. I learned a lot along the way through trial and error. Here are some of the things that have worked for my children.

Set aside homework time everyday: Many parents like to set aside the time right after school. For my sons, this is the worst time. They had to sit still all day and when they get home, they need a break. It works better for them to have a few hours after school where they can play and blow off some of the frustrations from sitting in class all day. While I make dinner is a much easier time for me and for them. They work and I do too, but I'm in the same room with them if they need me. If they don't their homework, they don't watch TV with dad later. I don't take their play time away, but have no problem taking computer time, phone time or TV time.

Be available for questions: Nothing is more frustrating to a child than having homework they don't understand. If you are not available for them, they will put it away and never finish it.

Have other resources available: Okay, I admit it. There does come a time when the math homework is beyond my capabilities. I graduated from college fifteen years ago and NOT with a degree in math. I can't remember everything. It might take me an hour of studying the math book before I get it. My kids aren't going to wait that long. However, I did find some great homework help websites for my kids if they need it. There are math sites that show you how to work through a problem.

Host a study group: I don't usually like to send my kids off to study groups because frankly, I don't know how much they really study. However, in high school, study groups can be beneficial. The best way to make sure your kids use study groups to study is to host them in your house. This means clearing off the kitchen table and providing a snack. Not only did my kids study, but I met other great kids this way.

Don't be afraid to take away privileges: I just took away the computer hard drive until homework gets done. I did it when the boys were in school so there would be no argument. Facebook for two hours is not my idea of homework on the computer. Cell phones also make great incentives for doing homework. Take a phone away for a few days and homework suddenly gets caught up.

Don't nag, scream or argue: I am GUILTY. What my guilt has taught me is that not only is this a poor way to get your kids to do homework, it ruins your relationship with them as well. I have learned the hard way. I had a school psychologist remind me my relationship with my child is more important than their grades. Which brings me to my last and hardest.

Don't be afraid to let your kids fail: Okay, so this means they won't get that scholarship you hoped for. I get that. However, when a child has to face the teacher with unfinished homework, has to stay in for recess or has to retake a high school course, they learn the most valuable life lesson ever:  The lesson of personal responsibility. It is hard to watch your child fail. I know, I've been there, done that. I've told my children I would rather have them fail than cheat and I mean that.  It is hard not to be a helicopter parent and not hover around your child. But, in the long run, children and teens learn to be independent when they have to face the consequences of their actions.


Jenilyn Collings said...

These are really good suggestions! We fight this battle a lot with our son and I think some of these would be great to help him. Thanks!

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