Now that I have school-age children, I feel the homework debate brewing.
Some feel it takes away from the little time families seem to have with each other these days and others feel it reinforces what is taught in school. I fall somewhere in between the two. I understand some of the arguments on both sides. But for now, I am putting on a positive face for my kids and making it fun and productive. I will take my fight to the streets another time and in another article.
So, how do you make homework fun and productive?
1. Stay Positive
First, get rid of any of the bad homework baggage you’ve collected from your school days and start anew. We all have memories of being exhausted with pages of algebra to do and Shakespeare to read, so let all of that go and for the sake of the kids pretend it was all good. Maybe you can tell your kids about some of the fun homework assignments or projects you got to do as a student. Maybe you can challenge them to teach or re-teach you some of the things they are learning. Check your tone and make sure you stay positive and focus on how hard they try with words of encouragement.
2. Encourage Good Homework Habits
Next, you can really help your kids by creating excellent homework habits. This is where I went astray as a child. I was allowed to close myself off in my bedroom and do my homework and studying. I can tell you now that I did little of either. It was much more fun to daydream, listen to music or look at the endless Michael Jackson posters I had plastered on my walls. My parents soon realized what was up, but not before I got a taste of the good life.
My husband and I agree that the kids will do their homework on the dining room table with good lighting, no TV or music and Mom and Dad close by for questions. We will pick a time that homework gets done daily so there are no surprises or fights. OK, so there may be fights, but there won’t be surprises.
3. Have the Right Materials
Make sure there are pencils, paper, a dictionary and anything else your child might need close at hand. If organization is an issue, colored folders for each class might help. A homework in and out box might help keep papers from getting lost. The assignment goes in the “in” box right after school and in the “out” box when it is done for parents to review. If there is a long-term project, set goals with dates and get excited for the due date. Check up on your child’s progress but try not to nag.
4. Seek Help If Needed
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I recall my math tutor in middle school with great fondness and wish he could have stayed with me through high school (and now!). My parents saw a need and found help for me. I was thrilled when I mastered what I thought was impossible and became much more confident not only with math but with anything that was difficult. I will have no problem getting a tutor for my kids if they need one. Some subjects are just hard for some kids and a tutor can be just the thing to get them over a hump.
5. Stick It Out
Finally, show an interest in your child’s homework and go on the journey with them. Personally, I am eager to relearn the many things I have forgotten over the years. I told this to my daughter and she said she would love to “be my teacher."
So stock up on supplies, clear off the dining room table and turn off the TV. School is in session and homework is heading your way.