What Do I Do When I Get The Call? “HEY, MOM, YOU NEED TO BRING ME MY HOMEWORK!”

Now days, it’s pretty often that I hear from parents that they receive calls or, more likely texts, stating that their child has forgotten their homework and needs someone (the parent!) to bring it to school – FTTSOLH!  (FASTER THAN THE SPEED OF LIGHT, HULLO!)  If the parent pauses before answering with an excited “Ok, I’m on my way” and offers up an excuse of some kind, that perhaps they are on their way to work or have another appointment, they just might hear something along these lines: “Well, you’re the one that wants me to get good grades, so, if you don’t bring it to me and I don’t turn it in, I’ll get a “D” or an “F!” and it will be all your fault!”
What is it with parents, kids, and homework?  Is it a predetermined formula for discontent, arguments, and negativity?  It may seem that way…but it doesn’t have to be!  Here are a few tips I’ve found that can up the odds of helping children be more engaged in learning, more responsible for their own school/homework and helping things to go right:

1.    Empathy is the key – the world today is NOT like the one you grew up in!  I believe genuine empathy is to: “Imagine what it might like to be this child in this particular situation – then seek understanding.”  (It wouldn’t be the same if it were us in that situation because we are different than our child, raised with different parents, a different culture, and experiences.  We might perceive things very differently.)
2.    Make sure you have an organized space for your child to work in:
a.    Organize all the materials your child needs in a convenient and easily accessed container(s) located in the homework area.  Whether it is a set of craft drawers on wheels, Tupperware with individual compartments, cans, buckets or boxes; each time a child has to take a break from their homework to find a paper, pencil, pen, or other resource, it uses additional brain power to get started up again on the project or work they were involved in doing.  Just two or three of these types of start and stop delays are enough for some kids to give up on trying to focus and complete their work. (if you need ideas, can I just say PINTREST?)
b.    Set aside a designated work space.  Some families use the kitchen table or desk that can be easily supervised and accessed for help from a parent.  If you have teens, they may want to do their homework in more private spaces such as their rooms – remember, however, all computers are recommended to be in “public viewing at all times” by professionals to help kids stay safe and allow parents to monitor websites visited by their children.
3.    Offer choices of when your children would like to do their homework.  The choices you offer for grade school aged kids may be different than the choices of time availability you give to teenagers.  You might try something like this:
a.    “Would you rather do your homework after you have a snack and play for 30 minutes when you get home from school or would you rather get right to it and get it done and then have your snack and play time?  Either works for me!”  Once they make the decision, hold them to it!  If they decide to snack+play+homework on a regular basis, you may discover that your child needs some physical exercise and a little nourishment to replenish their brainpower after a long day at school.
b.    “I’m available to help with your homework after dinner until 8pm.  Let me know what time works best for you and I’ll be happy to help, if you’re interested.”  Teens brains ramp up a little later in the evening and often that is when they decide to work on homework.
4.     Remember that homework is THEIR school-work that they have brought home to work on – either because it was assigned that way or wasn’t finished in class.  Either way, it is their work not yours.  Our job is to encourage and support them (not do for them) in learning how to take on responsibility and be accountable for it.  This not only helps them in their academic environment, but in preparation for the real world.

5.    Developing a loving, positive relationship with your child allows you influence, with influence you can make a difference.  Cultivate a good relationship with their teacher(s) and as a team you will do more good in helping them to succeed by discovering what their strengths are and focusing on those; where they need the most assistance, and put together a strategy for helping them succeed.

6.    Listen, listen, listen to what your child says about school…. If their grades are slipping, if you begin to have reports about disruptive or other uncharacteristic behaviors being demonstrated by your child such as angry, disrespectful, the “class clown”, they have become “lazy” or unfocused; withdrawn or less social than before, more anxious or depressed; uninterested in school; all these may sound like a child who may be “attention seeking” or “not willing to knuckle down and get to work” or…..  And the list goes on.  However, my experience in working with over 100 schools (that’s over thousands of kids) it is more likely to be an undiscovered learning issue or emotional issue creating a problem which is keeping the child from being successful in school.  What I haven’t seen work, is to put more pressure on getting a better grade, performance or score.  Look beneath the behaviors for the answer.

7.     Attribution Strategy:  When we can help a child see that their own efforts have led to their successes, they increase their self-concept (self-identity/worth/esteem), and feel good about whom they are and what they’ve accomplished.  When encouragement is offered in this manner (Attribution Strategy), they are more likely to continue to make the efforts to do better and attribute those results to their good decisions and consistent efforts.  One of the beneficial outcomes of this is children develop an internal desire/motivation to achieve, which with today’s “entitlement” culture, is lacking in many of our children, teens and young adults.
These tips are just a few of the strategies I cover in my “Homework” workshop coming up later this year.  If you are interested in using the “Attribution Strategy” with your child – click on this link ATTRIBUTION STRATEGY LINK and it will take you to the resource page on my website.
If you have additional questions – Please send them in by clicking here!
I love hearing from you.
Enjoy your week!