Every child is different. Can we agree on that?
Any parent who has more than one child learns quickly that they cannot know what a second child will be like based on the first – not in looks, temperament, or talents. We each have our own.
If your first child came home from school each day and dove straight into homework without being reminded, might you reasonably expect that the second one will operate that same way? Maybe. But you are likely to be surprised! He may present you with a new homework drama every single day.
That’s what makes being a parent so challenging! At the end of the day, you simply have to work with what – or, rather, who – you get.
But while there are many things about your kids homework that you cannot control, you must work with the things you can.
Homework is not optional, is it?
The homework routine is one of the first disciplines your child will have to master. Mastery of homework skills and success with homework will set your kid up for success in life. Homework, with all its components – study, preparation, problem-solving, practice & drills – is a critical skill. Their success at this discipline is largely up to you!
Here are some core strategies to help you tame the homework tiger at your house.
Establish good habits early! Nail down your kids’ homework routine when the tykes first go to school. When they are excited about homework. Then stick to it. Children love routine! The precise routine is not the most important thing. What works for you? Is yours a “homework first” household? Or, because of schedules, does coming home start with dinner and then homework? Or will your children have play time before they come inside to study? It doesn’t matter. But make it routine. When life is predictable, kids thrive. When homework is just part of the daily routine, it will become like clockwork.
Routines and Fun!
Make sure the routine includes a little fun! Remember that as they get older your kids’ homework will get more difficult, and outside pressures will mount (college admissions, for example). Avoid letting your child get too “heavy, deep, and real” about homework; and by all means, don’t you be the one! Keep it light. Keep your role supportive, and not badgering. Celebrate the small wins. A cupcake now and then won’t hurt!
Work with your child’s individual learning style.
It is worth the effort to identify each child’s learning style early and structure kids homework tasks to fit it. While a public school education is a wonderful thing, public school teachers will be the first to tell you that each child learns differently. Is your child an auditory learner? You may want to read the homework to this student. Can another child disappear into his room with a book for days, then come out and ace a difficult test? That’s an intrapersonal learning style. Yet another child will only learn by doing. You may need to plan hands-on homework support activities for this kinesthetic learner. (Work with the teacher on this!) Working with each child’s style may seem complicated at first, but will ultimately save you and your student time, make kids homework bearable, and spare everybody heartache.
So have fun helping your kids develop the right attitude about homework. They will take their cue from you. Some days it may be fun, others challenging. Sometimes it will be engaging, sometimes not. And yet its role in a child’s life is vital. Help them develop the kind of winning attitude about homework that will foster success in every area of their lives.