Homework…ugg!

So – how was your day?  Do you have a lot of homework? 

And so, it begins…

For many parents, one of the greatest sources of stress revolves around the issue of homework.  The reasons for the stress may vary from parent to parent, or may be different based on each child’s uniqueness, but the end result can be just as impactful.  I want to share my perspective on how we can reduce some of the stress and find more balance and meaning for ourselves and our children.

A study I read recently (Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools) says that when it came to stress, more than 70 percent of high school students said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56 percent listing homework as a primary stressor.  As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the role of homework enforcer.  If we can take a step back for a moment and look at the role homework plays in our children’s lives, perhaps we can use this time, and our view of homework in a more productive light.

How we see ourselves as learners, how we learn how to deal with struggles, and how we learn how to manage our stress are all vital factors leading to success and happiness.  Setting attainable and exciting goals, learning how to gather the resources and finding the support toward reaching these goals is a skill as well.  While I am not suggesting that school performance is not important, I am asking that we look at the overall message we want our children to have.  When I train teachers, I ask them to help students connect with their lessons on a deeper level so that the learning is more meaningful – even when they are not as interested in the subject material.  What are you learning, why are you learning it, what is the benefit of learning how to learn these lessons?

Homework time, for better and for worse, is an opportunity for children to learn how to manage their time and their materials.  Even more than that, it is an opportunity for them to learn about themselves regarding their goals and their skill and strategies in reaching their goals.  I believe that helping our children be conscious of their guiding intentions – what is known as “metacognition” (thinking about what you are thinking about), is one of the most important gifts we can give them.  Framing homework time as an expression of how they manage their overall goals can help them stay focused while working so they can have time and energy for the other things they value in their lives.

Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer our children is to help them learn what to do when they feel overwhelmed and out of balance.  Help them gain perspective by partnering with them to help them establish and achieve their overall goals, not just their academic obligations.  Model for them, and learn with them, how to find balance and reduce daily stress.  I believe we could all use a little fine tuning in these areas of life these days.

If your child is struggling to complete their homework, it is important to address these issues.  There may be many factors contributing to the difficulties – the level, the amount, the child’s self-management skills.  But you are not alone in this journey.  Never let your relationship suffer at the altar of homework.

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2 thoughts on “Homework…ugg!”

  1. Cindy, I always appreciate your insights. Both my daughters have ADHD. My near 14-old takes most of her tests cold due to lack of motivation and her ability to do fairly well without effort. She completes her homework so as not to lose points but she doesn’t work hard. My 8 year old is a whole other matter. She is in a high performing public school, where the Principal is very Common Core obsessed. I suspect it’s more about the Principal and the school stats associated with her. I am vocal about my dislike for the Core. I am disgusted by the curriculum. For the average child, it’s a lot. For my child it’s all negative. She only knows failure, and she has a very healthy IQ. She just can’t perform. Her recall is very poor and with each poor grade, she becomes less motivated. These kids are asked to correct their mistakes on math tests. I’m sorry, but if she didn’t get half the test right, she’s not going to be able take on correcting it on a school night with other homework. Her ADHD Dr. was appalled. It’s nonsensical to ask children to fix what they don’t understand!! And yet, this is what’s required. The stress level in our home is crazy. She has to read every night and she refuses. I stopped worrying about it because I thought I was going to have a coronary, and it’s not worth it. She despises reading (both my kids do) and I am the daughter of a retired school librarian! I will never support forced reading. Children who like to read will read no matter. Children who do not like to read do not generally become avid readers when it’s forced. It’s quite opposite. I go back and forth between indignation and resignation. The bottom line is that my 8 year old’s needs are not being met.

    • Hi Jane,
      I know that sometimes the teachers are not in sync with what some of these kids need. I encourage you not to give up. The more you can speak understand and speak the language of WHY your daughter needs different supports and WHAT those supports need to look like the more you can shift what occurs. Sometimes it can feel like a battle, but it’s worth the effort. I will also help you know how to support her better. And just a thought – have you considered audio books occasionally? Not to replace reading, but sometimes it can keep them engaged and supplement.

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