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Homework Time

COLE, age: 12
I’m in the 7th grade and I hard work at school. I need a break after school to relax. My mother says I have to do my homework as soon as I get home from school. I feel I’m old enough to decide when I do my homework.

MARY, mother
Since Cole has started middle school his grades are lower than ever before. I’ve noticed he is more concerned with computer games, sports and watching TV than he is about doing his homework. I end up yelling at him and we spend a great deal of time arguing every afternoon. He gets home from school at 3:30 and I would like him to do his homework right when he comes home. Then he can have the rest of the evening to relax and do the things he likes to do.

School children need a routine that includes both structure and down time. My suggestion would be for Mom and son to come up with a homework routine that would best meet the needs of the entire household.

Kids can benefit from some down time right after school. After all, as adults, we like a little break right after we come home from working all day. There should be an established homework time that is consistent each day. For example, homework can be started at 4:30 and if needed completed after dinner. This will allow Cole an hour of free time after school.
Parents should realize that middle school can be difficult both socially and academically for many children. It is not uncommon for grades to be lower than previous school years. Nonetheless, all students should be taught the value of their education and to do their best in school.
Computers with Internet access and televisions should be kept in common areas of the home, instead of the child’s bedrooms so that parents may monitor their children’s exposure to potentially harmful influences of the media. Mom can inform Cole that there will be consequences for not complying to the scheduled homework time. Also if his grades are, he could loose TV and computer privileges.

Louise Hajjar Diamond has been a guidance counselor for twelve years. She is also a freelance writer and mother of two.

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