Monday, September 17, 2012

Homework Routines Not Just for Kids

The other night was a great reminder that getting back into good homework routines is not just about what our kids do, it's about what we do too.

After his second day of school, my 6th grader was diligently working on his homework and had spent 1 1/2 hours on it when I came into the room. I figured he was probably finishing up. When I looked at the math assignment he had been working on (the whole time!), I could see that this project would actually take a few more hours to complete and he still had three other subjects requiring homework to be turned in the next day.

I reacted with concern and irritation, telling him he had to move on, and that if he was concerned about not finishing it, he could email the teacher. I was also annoyed that the teacher could have possibly expected the kids to turn this in the next day. The guideline for homework was supposed to be 20 minutes for this class!

My mistake was neglecting to do the first step of the Calmer, Easier, Happier Homework program and to "Prepare for Success". Noël Janis-Norton always recommends to start homework by sitting down with your child and asking him to tell you about his homework. Look at the assignments for every subject, asking questions about each one to make sure he knows what he needs to do and how to do it. If I had done this, I could have anticipated that this math project was unreasonable for him to complete and limited the amount of time he spent on it. Instead I reacted in a negative way - certainly not fair to my child who was just doing what he was supposed to do.

Preparing for Success is so important. It's all about being proactive and taking steps to help your child succeed. When we don't prepare, we react, and our reactions are often negative and rarely helpful.

Lesson learned though. Now each night my husband or I take five minutes to do step one, reviewing the assignments and putting a time limit on each one when necessary.

Laura Runnels Fleming (see profile below)
Pasadena, CA