Are you having problems with your child skipping, forgetting or avoiding doing their homework? Frustrated with the constant calls from their class teacher for the umpteenth time, reminding you to keep a more watchful eye on your kid’s homework? Why can’t they do it themselves?Between managing a household or a business, a job or three other kids, where would a parent be able to FIND THE TIME to help with their child’s homework? I mean don’t they have teachers for that in school or in tuition or daycare? What MORE do they want?!
Whoa whoa whoa. Take a deep breath. Don’t worry, you’re doing fine. Things may feel overwhelming right now but by the end of this post, perhaps you may get a better sense of what to do and how to help your child and your sanity.
First up, we need to make some adjustments towards the way we view homework in general.
Homework Is a Necessary Evil, GRRR
Homework can make or break a child’s attitude towards education. Give a child too little and he can’t follow the lesson the teacher is trying to teach; give a child too much and she won’t be keen to look at another book (even if it is for leisure) once she has completed all her homework. That would be a crying shame.
Not only that, once your kid starts hating homework, they’ll develop a fear or hatred for school as well, and then your morning’s shot. You don’t want to wait until they get there before you step in. Because that mess follows your kid and you throughout their school life.
So Rule #1 is to never give kids a reason to hate homework.
That said, there is another more important thing you need to keep at the back of your head at all times: your child’s view of homework is a reflection of your view of homework.
Ok, bear with me. How many times have you talked about how much homework (tonnes!) your child has, to another adult? How many times have you talked about it in front of your child (you won’t believe the amount of spelling and writing he has come home with today, and it’s only Monday)?
When you do that, you’re imprinting upon them the impression that there is a truckload of paperwork that they will have to go through = they have less time for fun and play, ergo homework = bad.
If you, as a parent, attach a frustrated feeling towards “homework” (oh no, not more writing work!) viewing it as a burden (but we did 5 pages already yesterday, why are they giving you 5 more?) rather than a responsibility or something that is beneficial to yourself and therefore your child, then your child will adopt the same feeling towards homework (oh no, mom is not going to like it that I have more Math worksheets to do tonight).
And right there is where you would have lost half the battle. So let’s fix that.
Homework Is Good Training, Young Grasshopper
It helps to instil the view of homework as a responsibility given by a teacher to a student. Everyone has responsibilities; it is part of growing up.
The thing with giving responsibilities to kids as young as 7 years old (Primary 1) is that we have to go through it in stages. Or at least we should. The problem is schools these days just dive right in and will send your kid home with 3 to 5 pages of homework for each subject. That’s why kindergartens are doing the same. #GottaStartThemEarly
(Which is also why you should start doing whatever you are picking up from this post with your kid as soon as they start preschool or start bringing home homework. It makes things easier as they grow older. Just don’t be too strict about it because remember Rule #1.)
As a parent, rather than adopt a sluggish view about homework (urgh, are they prepping you for a PhD with all these workbooks?), think about it as a training session that helps them improve in school.
To help kids manage, split up the work to bite-sized pieces, and mix some of the heavy-duty work (writing or colouring) with the lighter workloads (filling in the blanks, matching, multiple-choice questions).
You could also break things up in between with a snack session or a quick break with their favourite toys.
Be careful to set a tangible deadline for them or else playtime will extend all the way until bedtime. No matter what, you must finish your homework, because it is a responsibility assigned to you. Drill this into their head. Help them organise their workload but let them own their homework.
Fully Utilise Homework If yOU Are Doing It ANyways!
For all the time and effort you put into homework, you best make full use of homework. It’s also important for your kids to understand what they are learning. Don’t do homework just for the sake of finishing it.
Homework is a great tool for seeing how well your child is progressing in school, or otherwise. You don’t need to look at your child’s report card to know how they are faring if you follow their homework at least during the first three years of primary school (or until they are 10 years old).
The idea is to make sure they are learning what they are supposed to learn. The point is that they learn something new every time they are doing homework. Plus, doing it bit by bit takes away the stress from learning. And it’s best to get your child to learn how to ask questions.
I learned probably a little too late that kids don’t know what it is that they don’t know. Sometimes you take for granted that they understand what you are talking about and that they are absorbing what you are teaching.
That’s almost never the case.
And you would not know unless they ask you questions. So encourage them to ask. Make communication two ways as often as possible.
Doing Homework Is A Habit Worth Nurturing
When doing homework, make sure finishing it becomes a habit. For example, getting homework done before play, or getting it done before going to bed. Be consistent when executing this and it will become your child’s habit, one they can do independently once they are older. #dobbyisfree
Another trick to surviving homework is to be organised. The sooner you can plow through homework, the sooner you can get back to your toys. So help them get started asap.
While they are in class, when a new homework is assigned, get them to separate the homework into a special homework file (one you will need to prepare) or into a special section in their schoolbag (like an inner pocket).
Alternatively, the kids can jot the pages down in a notebook, and earmark the page to make it easier to find. This beats having to rummage through every workbook in hopes of finding, and not missing, any assigned homework.
Look, we have days when we are just too tired or down to be bothered with anything. Kids have days like these too. They may have had a row with a friend, or a teacher may have given them a tongue lashing over something that isn’t their fault in the first place.
Whatever the reason is, kids have bad days too. Parents will do well to pay heed to these moments as well as help these kids address their emotions in those situations. #anotherarticle #anotherday
If however your child has started throwing tantrums, that’s a sure sign of fatigue, which requires a power nap, or skipping swimming/football practice. When tantrums happen, homework can wait. In fact, I let my daughter skip her homework if she is too tired to follow through, ever since I found her passed out on the dinner table sprawled across a pile of her half-done homework.
We need to teach kids to put their health above getting things done. It’s something many adults our age don’t know they can do.
You want your child to grow up and be independent as soon as possible, but it is not something that happens overnight. Be fair to them, guide them by showing them the steps but make sure they take the steps themselves, with your support on the side, of course.
School results are not the only important thing in life, but it is a good indication of their personal progress, which helps you figure out how much help they may need from you. Use grades as goals instead of your child’s reason for being, and we all are going to be alright.