Kristin Tinker mother of two gathers together some true life homework confessions from guilty parents with all names withheld to protect innocent children involved and Hannah Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist, gives some tips to make homework time a little easier for children and parents.
When our babies are little, we fantasise (albeit with trepidation) about future times when our role is to help our little ones with their homework, to read endless numbers of books to help with their language and literacy, to sit down and coach them on the ins and outs of primary school mathematics until they grasp the concepts and are confident to face it alone in class- without us. We imagine a fully engaged child, who is eager to learn and listen to our wise words, and we anticipate we will face this situation with patience, confidence, understanding, and nurturing.
Fast forward a few years, and the reality can often be very different! Our lives are so full, and our days jam-packed with so many activities, demands and challenges, that the “homework fantasy” can often feel more like a “homework nightmare”.
As these parents confess, homework and school projects can often feel like a survival race, where the aim is to get the job done, with minimal harm! It’s the survival of the fittest, where only the strongest live to tell their tales…
School projects! Why do some school projects seem so hard! We had a golden rule in our household that we helped with homework and projects but never actually did the whole thing. I suppose there can always be an exception. Yes?
Our daughter was given the task of creating something different for a History assignment in Year 7. It wasn’t allowed to be written, it had to be ‘different’, ‘original’, ‘unique’ to illustrate a particular area of study that the class had just completed after weeks of study. ‘We’ decided to create a Greek Temple. It was amazing, made out of balsa, dowels and glue. The Corinthian columns were created by our daughter on the computer and glued onto the uprights built for this purpose. It was a masterpiece to behold. Not only did she/we score full marks but it was also on display in the library for some time. What an achievement.
But the best part was we were approached some months later by a parent of a student at a different school to buy it!! Will we? Can we? Should we! YES! AND we got rid of a dust collector!
I remember my daughter bursting into tears one night because she had a project due the next day. Of course, we hadn’t heard anything about it since it was given by the teacher, some two weeks earlier. Our task? To research a design print, and then hand carve the detail into a bar of soap. Easy, Right?? How very wrong! My daughter took to the soap with a carving knife, and in her hasty approach, cut her finger- almost off. The soap carving went to second priority as we raced to Sutherland emergency.
A few hours and five stitches later, we returned home, still with our soap-carving dilemma. And then I remembered the batch of soaps given to me by my grandmother, which had been in the bathroom cupboard for years, waiting until we ‘needed them’. Jackpot! I knew we would need them one day, although didn’t imagine it would be for a reason like this! After trawling through the box, we found one with a dolphin carving which looked quite exotic. We got the knife, roughed it up a bit to look a bit more authentic, and Bingo! Our soap carving was complete! All my daughter had to do was to research a print that looked similar to that of our dolphin, and project done.
She still has the scar on her finger as a constant reminder to be more organised!
Hannah Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist, gives some tips to make homework time a little easier for children and parents.
We all know how stressful homework can be, and setting up good homework habits can sure make life a little bit easier.
- Don’t leave it too late! Encourage doing homework earlier in the day, before your kids (and you) are too tired.
- Get into a routine by setting ‘homework time’. This way everyone knows when it’s time to do homework, which makes it more likely to be done.
- Try to minimise distractions such as TV, iPad, siblings playing/chatting nearby, etc. during homework time.
- Break down a large task into smaller, more achievable ones.
- Encourage your child to be organised and know what is due when. This will help assuring that deadlines are met.
- Support their learning by providing assistance when required. It might help to encourage them to ask for help early rather than the night before large assignments or projects are due. Reward ‘taking initiative’ and ‘owning’ homework. ‘It is YOUR homework and I am here to HELP YOU if needed.
- Try to focus on PROCESS instead of the END RESULT. Effort, persistence and trying hard, even with difficult questions should be encouraged. Avoid phrases like: ‘see, it was easy’, or ‘you are so clever’ as this might increase child’s frustration when faced with more difficult tasks.