Homework is at best a chore for most children unless they are very committed. They find homework difficult, often because they are not motivated. Consider the following questions.
When your child does homework to what degree is he or she comfortable, focused, and relaxed, or is doing homework a battle and a struggle every night?
Do you have to give homework help regularly?
Have you spoken to his or her teachers?
Have you tried gentle pep talks?
Do you resort to harsh reprimands?
Rarely will any of these work in isolation and pep talks and reprimands are the last things you should use as they will simply build up resistance to school and homework.
The struggle with homework can, however, be eased by “re-programming” your child’s attitude and approach to homework.
Here is a seven-step approach to curing the homework struggle:
Step 1. Stop discussing doing homework with your child.
Instead, discuss how he or she is approaching homework. As part of this solution guide your child to step back and really explore the way, they are approaching their studies.
Step 2. Find out what pressure your child is under with regard to homework. Ask him or her:
Are you worried about what your friends will think if you do or don’t do your homework?
Do you find the homework difficult and believe that you are not clever enough?
Do you enjoy struggling with your homework, or do you want to end this struggle?
Step 3. Discuss their answers openly.
Never dismiss their opinions or feelings – even if you strongly disagree with them. These feelings are theirs and are valid whatever you think. Dismissing them only reinforces them.
Step 4. Acknowledge that homework is not easy.
Show your child that resisting it makes it a bigger problem and creates an obstacle to enjoying the rest of their free time.
When you change their negative attitude they will work more positively and creatively and with less pressure. Positively approaching homework gets it out of the way quicker and removes the stress.
Step 5. Make yourself available as a tutor:
Offer assistance on how to approach problems but don’t give the answers. If you don’t know something say so and work with them, so you learn. Praise them for the level of work they are achieving.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself look foolish – it provides motivation for them to see the work is difficult, and when they have completed it they get a greater sense of achievement.
Step 6. “Reprogramming” should be done while your child is doing homework, but not when there is any time pressure.
They should be able to stop and start studying many times to discuss any problems. Initially try it at the weekend but not when they are rushing to go out.
Don’t introduce it as a special time. Your child should just regard it as a normal homework session. You should, talk to them and focus on their resistance to homework. It may not work immediately. It is a process and eventually, they will drop or reduce their resistance and find a more positive attitude towards their homework.
Step 7. Be aware that “getting work done” is not the main focus of your time using this approach.
There will be many purposeful stops and starts, as you both explore the best way to approach homework. Let your child express his or her feelings. Discuss and expose all their limiting beliefs and feelings and encourage them to find their own solution.
Children and homework are a difficult mix at the best of times but tackling the real cause of their resistance will lead a more positive approach and better grades.