If there was one part of mychildhood I could’ve escaped, I would have chosen the part I spent doinghomework over anything else! I dreaded the word! Homework meant time away fromthe park, away from television, away from my exploratory hours of doing nothingin particular, but looking extremely busy, among many other interesting things(from a child’s point of view of course, ask my mother and she has a differentversion to tell even today!). But little did I know at the time, that Iwould be plagued by this dreaded task long after my academic years were over.Yes, being a parent can be rewarding in many ways, but I’m sure you will allagree when I say, that we could have done without a sense of déjà vu in thisparticular aspect of our lives.
And my mother’s revenge only getssweeter! Not only do I have to tackle with phase 2 of homework but I also haveto deal with a child who, besides inheriting my interests such as reading andsolving puzzles, has also been gifted with my scorn for homework with equal ifnot more passion!
So, if like me, you are tired ofarguing, nagging and struggling with your kids to get them to do homework, readon!
I realized over time that there isactually very little that works; when it comes to getting your child to sitdown to do homework! Bribing, threatening, and punishing, while may yieldresults in other areas of life, certainly don’t budge my son when it comes totaking homework more positively and sincerely!
That’s when I decided, it was timefor introspection and some good old Google search on how to deal with thisperennial parenting problem, and yes, grudgingly, also change my perspective onthe task. (I say this with confidence, having spoken to number of aggrievedparents).
Let me begin with the basics: Whatis homework and why is it necessary?
Homework is defined as out-of-classtasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom work. Itserves as an intersection between home and school, and aside from the benefitsfor the child, which include extended learning time, ability to operateindependent from the school environment, and problem solving; it also allowsthe parent to observe the education being provided and play an active role inthe process. In fact according to some researchers, two ways to increasestudents’ opportunities to learn are to increase the amount of time thatstudents have to learn and to expand the amount of content they receive.Homework assignments usually foster both these goals.
So how can we play an active role inour child’s learning process, such that it also changes their perception of theactivity and, to be honest, ours too? Here are some tips to get you started:
- Eliminate the word homework: Instead replace it with the word study. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your child saying, “I don’t have any homework.” Study time is about studying, even if your child doesn’t have any homework. It’s amazing how much more homework a child can have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.
- Establish a study routine. This needs to be the same time every day. It’s a good idea to let your child have some say in when study time occurs. Once the time is set, stick to that schedule. Children thrive on structure even as they protest. By having a regular study time you are demonstrating that you value education.
- Allow your child to make choices. Let him/her choose when to study and where and even how. If he/she prefers you to oversee while he/she is working on an assignment, be there, if not, supervise the work done at the end and then provide your strikes. The one choice children do not have is whether or not to study.
- Help without over-functioning. Only help if your child asks for it. Do not do problems or assignments for children. When your child says, “I can’t do it,” guide them with at least two three possibilities, instead of finishing the problem yourself. Then leave the immediate area and let him/her try to handle it from there. If the problem still persists, offer help, but guide him to the answer, instead of giving it away.
- Ask. Asking questions throughout the process comforts the child and also helps you discover, what parts he/she is finding difficult. You can also use this technique to elevate the learning process beyond the assignment at hand. For e.g.: If your child is working on an essay, ask him/her for examples on how he/she can do it differently. This will help expand his/her imagination beyond the obvious.
- Replace rewards with encouraging responses. End the practice of paying for a job well done! I know its tempting having succumbed to this one myself many times over, but this style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage children to develop a lifetime love of learning. Instead make positive remarks that concentrate on encouraging behavior that you want your child to display.
At the end of the day, study time isalso another way to bond with your child, and spend time accomplishingsomething meaningful together. It is a family commitment. If you won’t committo it, don’t expect that you child will. There is no way to help your childlearn to love what he does, unless you lead by example. That’s what I intend todo going forward, what about you?
An additional tip for parents: Today when your child is studying, give yourself a homeworkassignment too! Decide which parts of the tips shared, you want to implement,in order to improve the learning process for your child. Commit to it. Decidewhen you will begin. Put it in down in writing and keep checking it off thelist, as you progress. Finally give yourself a pat on the back, after havingcompleted the assignment, for a job well done, and a smiling child who actuallyenjoys his/her homework time!