I overheard a conversation today while sitting in the doctor's waiting room. A mom was lamenting the dread she and her son go through each evening when facing homework. Both my boys are grown and I live in an empty nest, but I remember how homework could turn an evening into a nightmare. Here are a few suggestions that I used to help alleviate the problem.
1. Allow Some Venting – Listen to the groaning for a bit. Kids need to express their frustration and want to be heard. Empathize with phrases like, "that is a lot of work," and "wow, you sound upset." They'll feel better and have more focus once they know they're understood.
2. Earlier Is Better – Let's face it, kids (and parents) aren't much good at anything when they're tired. Get to that homework as quickly as you can.
3. Positive Reinforcement – Try not to mirror your child's moaning and groaning. A "you can do this" or "this looks interesting" can go a long way in teaching your child to have an upbeat attitude about homework.
4. Create a Call List – A couple of "study buddies" can be a good thing if your child forgets an assignment, so have some phone numbers on hand. A classmate can read the instructions over the phone, or a parent can take a picture of the list of spelling words and send it in a text or an email.
5. Leave The Room – Allowing your child to do his/her homework on their own builds confidence. This is not to say that you shouldn't be within calling distance if you're needed, but parents should realize that some kids will often drag out the inevitable merely to get attention.
6. Become A Cheerleader – Young children, especially, thrive on praise! Don't be afraid to let your child know he/she did a great job. I'm not suggesting that you let blatant mistakes go uncorrected, but once the homework is done to the best of your child's ability, go ahead and give them a "good job" and a nice, big hug.
Years ago, a friend called to tell me her 3rd grade daughter had locked herself in her room after they'd fought over homework. I had to use every tool in my homework toolbox to save the day. After it was all over, I told the little girl, "You shouldn't fight with your mom over homework." She looked contrite while her mother offered an I-told-you-so expression. I said to my friend, "You should fight with your daughter over homework." My friend's eyebrows arched and her daughter giggled like a little monkey. In the end, all three of us were laughing.
Do you have a funny homework story? How do you cut homework heartache?