They’re baaaackkkkkkk! Homework hassles are back. Anyone gritting their teeth and saying, “This year it’s GONNA be different”? It’s a fresh start, a new you, spanking clean spirals, freshened up back packs, sanitized lunch pails, all is right with the world. Fast forward a week, or two – forgotten assignments, overdue library books, obsessive checking on EdLine, unauthorized phone use by children. Spiral of defeat and sadness. Yelling, nagging, threatening ensue. Is it 2014 again? No, it’s EARLY in the 2015/2016 school year, we still have a chance Nifty Tippers!
Devices: Get technology tamed early in the game. Come up with family boundaries (that means you too!). Here are some ideas to spark your thinking: everyone phone free from 7-9:30, lap tops in public spaces, computers off 30 minutes before bed, tv watching only Thursday – Sunday, phones spend the night together in the kitchen. These are not the rules, they are jumping off points for you and your family to discuss. People (including kids) follow the rules if they help make the rules. Try this, “Ok folks, this is an experiment just Sunday night – Friday morning, we can all live with that, right?” Much easier to tolerate a new idea if it’s only for a limited number of days. After a few weeks of experimentation you might find a happy middle ground for you and the kiddos.
Homework Help: I know how satisfying it is to edit that term paper, give your child some nifty tips, or instruct them to re-write something because you know they can write more neatly. Homework is really a tool for the student and the teacher. It’s very disrespectful to assume the child does not have it handled. Consider also that it’s a real relationship drain when we try to be the parent, and the tutor, and the teacher, and the cheer leader, and the copy editor, and the calendar minder. You are the parent. Be available to support, listen, love, laugh and buy school supplies. Ask what reminders might be useful to them and then focus on your own big life.
It takes a village: Kids really do run into trouble. Don’t take it all on yourself. If you’ve butted out of the homework and things are nose-diving – go talk to the teacher, the school counselor, the class aide. Think of these conversations as being more then one complete and satisfying event. Gather information, leave with some new ideas, let questions and comments percolate. Children are unfolding – you can’t solve it all NOW (as much as you want to). Teachers can’t solve it all now(as much as you want them to).
Again, your kids homework is for your kids. Allowing kids to experiment, struggle, fail, succeed, work too hard, procrastinate, be a perfectionist, lose things, find things, triumph and ultimately learn something is a labor of love.
Originally published in the September 2015 issue of the Glover Park Gazette.