In middle school the kids had to do regular artists presentations. We got tri-fold boards from Staples (I love me a good office supply!), construction paper, double sided tape. I was in hog heaven. History, biography, art, double sided tape, trifold board, what could be more fun? I could totally, absolutely, without a doubt, kick ASS on the artist presentations! The bump in grades would be magnificent. Now, if the boys would only leave me alone while I got to work - they were messy, non-linear, not careful - I really needed to work alone to get those boards ship shape for them.
Unfortunately, I was taking/leading PEP (Parent Encouragement Program) and was being advised/advising to back off, stop helping and hey, mother, leave those kids alone! This was tragic, a travesty, a great, great loss for their GPAs. However, being both a rule follower and absolutely compelled to do something my thoughts turned to what I COULD do to help facilitate homework (different from doing the homework). Here's my list.
1. Create a homework doing, deep thinking, distraction free zone. Wipe down the kitchen table every day. Create a tiny station with pencils, pens, paper, stapler, calculators, etc close to the table. Then, tidy it every single day. This will keep you occupied AND doing something to help with the homework AND it models the magical art of tidying up!
2. Donate a shelf or two to the cause for each child. Clear out an ample sized shelf or cupboard to each child, very, very, very close to the kitchen table. A door on the cabinet makes everyone happy.
3. Uphold homework time - if you want a recipe for homework doing please refer to The Learning Habit. The short version, 10 minutes of homework per day/per grade. You uphold the time, they do the work. If they finish early, they free read. Seriously, read this book. (SEE, this is homework help you CAN do!)
4. Set up weekly meetings with tweens and teens to go over grades, goals and pitfalls. Um, people, this is your child's grades, goals and pitfalls. Please do not fix your procrastination problem through your child. Please do not fix your GPA through your child. Please do not fix your ambition/lack of ambition through your child. Thank you. Then write all your nags, concerns, reminders down and review ONCE a WEEK during the meeting. You will absolutely FAIL at this, AND it's worth trying, it will cut down on the nagging, reminding and worry tremendously.
5. Do your own homework. I know, it's ever so much more satisfying to advise, lecture and plan for someone else. And because I love you, here's your wee bit of tough love. Kids do as we do not as we say. Ugh! De-clutter, pay your bills, workout (seriously, if they are doing 2o minutes of homework you can do a workout video, e-mail me for suggestions, I have a million of them!), organize your taxes, edit your photos, delete e-mails, write your thank you notes, clean off your desk-top, donate books.