Homework. Often the most dreaded subject in (or should I say, ‘out of’) school. For some kids homework comes easy; but, unfortunately for others homework is a big, big, challenge. Let’s face reality, when things are challenging for our children, they ultimately become challenging for the adults too. Homework starts with 1+1=2 and then one day we are faced with some kind of extreme calculus problem we are unable to easily help them with. So often, we just want to take away the burdens of what our children are facing, but homework is one of those things our kids just have to do. Those first few years of homework can really make an impact on how kids do with self-discipline later in life with any type of ‘home work.’
All that said, homework time still is not easy. I’ve been there… to that breaking point…saying: “We just learned basic subtraction. Please, for the love of God, tell me how you came up with 7-5=3.” Have you been there? I find homework time to be so much easier when I prepare myself mentally for patience. I have found remaining relaxed and calm… instead of well.. wanting to rip all of my hair out.. is essential! I cozy up next to my kids with my favorite mug filled with hot tea. We cannot pour from an empty cup. So, taking care of ourselves first is essential, especially when, we are about to face our kids’ frustrations and challenges.
Here are a few of my suggestions when it comes to helping your child with homework:
Prepare yourself to enjoy it. Sit down with your favorite snack and have one ready to share with the kids too. It is not supposed to be afternoon torture time. It is healthy habit making time! They are learning self-discipline at such an early age and making sweet memories with you too. If they know you will enjoy the time with them, they will be more eager to do the work. If your child is older, grab a book and use that time to catch up on your favorite read. Not only does it show your commitment to helping them stay on task with schoolwork, but it shows that old-fashioned habit of reading a book instead of being suckered into screen time.
Stay Calm. I repeat, stay calm. I can tell you first hand how frustrating it is when you want to give your child the answer to the “simple” question they are stuck on. But…breathe because you giving them the answer is not always helpful. You want them to learn and understand the material. Explain to them how to solve the problem. Is it a part of speech they are trying to understand? Is it a math problem? Give them an example of a similar math problem. Write the formulas out for them. Is your spouse home? Tag team! Have your spouse step in and see if they can provide your child with a different perspective of solving the problem.
Encourage them. Children want to make their parents happy. A child’s nature is to want to be loved and accepted. So often a little word of encouragement can fill them right up with a happy heart. Homework time should be no different! Encouraging them, praising them and telling them how proud you are of them for sticking with it, leaves a positive imprint on their mind. Praise and encouragement build self-confidence in a healthy way. When praise and encouragement are provided, a child develops increased confidence to face giants in life, whether it be homework, switching schools, applying to jobs, or applying to colleges. They will remember your positive words encouraging them and reminding them you are proud of their accomplishments.
Stay in contact with their teacher. I cannot tell you how many times I have written a note to my child’s teacher saying I don’t know how to explain the subject to my child. I have asked for guidance in helping my child understand. TEACHERS LOVE THIS! In fact, I have received personal phone calls from my child’s teacher and listened as they walked my child through the troubled subject so I could hear the teachers guidance. As a result, I was able to help my child the next time. Most teachers have a heart and passion to see every student excel in school. They want to help! Just don’t wait until the night before that science fair project is due to ask the teacher for the list of requirements. 😉
Stay in a routine. Kids thrive on routines and schedules. My children know as soon as we are home, it is homework time. We use that time to get schoolwork done and communicate about their day. Find a routine that works for your family and make a mindful effort to stick to it. For me, the days out of routine are the days when papers go unsigned and homework is skipped. Routines help the next day go smooth and allow time to accomplish any important tasks.
Let’s face it, parenting can get messy, so why not do small things every day to help ourselves out? Setting our kids up early on with healthy homework habits allow them to create life long habits of self-disciple with their studies and responsibilities.
For more information or help implementing routines or healthy homework habits for challenging kids, give us a call 321-608-0604 or schedule an appointment here.