Homework…when I was still in school, homework had never been one of my favourite pastimes. I could easily think of many other nicer things to do. I now believe that there are very few children who really love doing homework.
My own child dislikes doing homework as well. She loves to postpone doing it, probably hoping that it will disappear all by itself.
I, on the contrary, know now that homework does NOT disappear by itself. I also know that when I decide to get started with it, it often takes me less time than I had expected, not to mention the wonderful feeling of “My homework has been done!”
My child has not experienced these things yet. She couldn’t care less about doing her homework. Because she is so reluctant about it, I feel inclined to take over the responsibility of her homework, and I want to ask her questions like: “What’s the deadline? What do you need to do? Shouldn’t you be doing your homework?” or: “How’s your homework?”
This is a kind of a twisted situation: her deadline is felt by me!!!
In some cases, I’d rather do her homework myself, which would at least assure me that it gets done. I think most parents will understand that doing your child’s homework is not the most intelligent decision, but sometimes, what else can you do?
I would like to offer you 5 pieces of advice to help your child to get their homework done:
1. As early as possible, start to name all of the benefits of having qualifications. Don’t preach to your child, but rather, tell your child from your own experiences. Tell your child how easy (or difficult) it has been for you to find a job compared to other people because you had (or did not have) the right qualifications. That way, you will stimulate your child and help them to understand why it is important to have qualifications. At the same time, acknowledge that doing homework is not always the most fun activity you can think of!
2. Assess the dynamics concerning homework in your home. Realize that the more responsibility you take for homework, the more reluctant your child will become. After all, you will have taken up all the responsibility for the homework. Even though your intentions are sound, by doing this, you are playing a crucial role in keeping the situation as it is.
3. Help your child to make a plan. The brains of children (adolescents included) are not matured yet. Therefore, most children are not fully capable of making a plan for themselves independently. Offer them your help. Helping is, by the way, different from doing it for them :-). Ask your child how he or she would like to be helped, like receiving reminders or reviewing the homework together.
4. At all times, avoid punishing or rewarding your child. This approach is based on feelings of fear (punishment) and/or dependency (rewards). By punishing or rewarding, you are nurturing these feelings in your child. There are many unwanted long term consequences of this approach. In short: you will destroy the quality of your relationship with your child and above all, you will destroy your child’s confidence.
5. Question: Who owns the problem when homework has not been done? Is failing for a test your problem or the problem of your child? What happens when your child fails two or three times in a row? What lesson will your child learn when he or she needs to tell the teacher, in front of all students, why the homework has not been done? Remember that having to leave school at a lower level does not have to mean that learning opportunities are lost forever. Starting to study as an adult is not very easy, but it is certainly not impossible. Allowing your child to make his or her own mistakes is courageous. At the same time, the lesson learned from behaviour like this is invaluable.
When I was in secondary school, I had to double a year. It did not make my homework easier, but I did manage to come out the other end of it just fine :-).