- Arts & Entertainment
- Health & Lifestyle
- Bits & Bytes
- Events calendar
Is Homework Really Two Four-letter Word?
It’s midnight and the deadline for writing this article was five pm.
“What are you going to write about this month?” my partner asks.
“Oh I don’t know. Alternative perceptions... integrity...compassion ...the same crap I write about every month.”
“Sounds great! Goodnight.”
And thus it begins. I am left in the dark with the heavy weight of my own procrastination for company. The dog rests his head on his front paws and looks up: “I don’t understand why you continue to put yourself in this position.”
If you are looking for some tips on how to help your kids complete their homework on time you can Google “homework.” A dozen articles entitled “The Homework Battle” pop up. Within a few moments of research, it becomes apparent that homework may best be defined as: an activity created to nurture domestic disputes between parents and children. Or a rite of passage into parenting school-age children, which results in either success: children learn the value of doing first things first, or failure: homework becomes a battleground for control and kids deliberately fail in school in order to prove to themselves, and their parents, that THEY are in control of their destiny.
I’ll take option one please. Option two gives me the shivers. There must be some sort of herbal essence I can sprinkle around the perimeter of my home to make sure that curse does not enter my happy home. And when I was a kid it never did. I dropped my books on top of the garbage bin beside the door and picked them up again in the morning. Homework was rarely granted an audience indoors. But I took the bus to school. What I couldn’t finish on the way home got completed on the way to school the next morning.
How do you negotiate homework if your child is enthusiastically engaged in extra-curricular activities: swimming, music, dance, sports teams? All of these activities provide experiences equally as valuable as in-school learning. Do you squeeze homework in-between school and after school activities or do you wait until after dinner, when your kids are only a few hours shy of bedtime? I asked a parent in the thick of it: “At our school, kids only have homework if they don’t get it done in class. My kids rarely bring extra work home.” Sounds like the perfect solution. If adults bring their work home they are labeled depressed workaholics or passionate about their livelihood, depending on which side of the coin they fall. Can we not cover the school curriculum in a six-hour day? And leave the remaining hours as time for our children to discover their passions?
So what if your child does not get their work done in school? Best to have a strategy in place. House rules in which “the weekend does not begin until homework is done” and “no TV, no cell phones, no Internet until homework is done” seem to be a good starting point. A sequel to the best seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has been written for children. My kids requested it as bedtime reading so often we had to renew it three times. They loved being privy to “the secrets of success.” The author talks about doing first things first. The longer you wait to complete a task the larger it looms in your consciousness. Relatively simple tasks can seem insurmountable.
You might wonder why your child has so much homework. Do they have a learning disability? Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, dysphasia. There is likely a “dys” that describes your own learning hurdles. As these processes tend to be genetic, perhaps your child is suffering from the same problems you did but has not learned the tools to compensate. Kids are the biggest, clearest mirror you will ever encounter. Connect the dots. The sooner you do so, the less your family will suffer.
Having explored those avenues, how about the kid who just doesn’t care? This is where things get interesting. Really? Your kid doesn’t care? Careful. Ammunition is being stockpiled. There are definite signs of an impending battle.
“When parents feel it’s their responsibility to get their kids to achieve, they now need something from their children—they need them to do their homework and be a success. I believe this need puts you in a powerless position as a parent because your child doesn’t have to give you what you want. The battle about homework actually becomes a battle over control. Remember, as long as you carry their concerns, they don’t have to.”**
There. Now I am done. I should get some exercise. But the first ten minutes are always so painful, and it’s going to be hot, and the hills are so big...
**Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC