Makes Kids Do Well in School?
Your Kids Test their Best
Happened at School Today by Dr. Judi Craig
Enjoy Your Middle-Schooler
A HANDLE ON HOMEWORK HASSLES
adapted from What Happened at School Today
by Dr. Judi Craig
For many parents—as well as children-- the homework issue is
a real source of stress. As Dr. Judi Craig comments in her book What
Happened at School Today (Hearst Books), parents and children alike
find themselves “hassled, upset, worried, defeated, or downright
angry because of it.” And given the current efforts to raise
school standards nationwide, we can all accept our kids to be doing
even more homework in the future.
HOW PARENTS CAN HELP
For most parents the big questions are: Is homework getting done properly?
and How much should I help?
A lot depends on the age of your child. Children in Kindergarten through
third grade need a parent to be “around” and to step in
if necessary. While some kids like to work alone, others prefer the
“quiet presence” of someone else.
Young children especially seem to want help with homework and at the
same time they want to do it themselves. When you respond to requests
for help, kids may lash out because they feel they’re not in
control of their own work. But don’t get upset when they resist
your suggestions or criticisms.
Older children may not want parents around, but they may need your
help in organizing their assignments and breaking work down into manageable
Research has shown that children who do the best in school have parents
who show interest in their kids’ work. But when you constantly
hover or take over assignments, kids start to feel as if whatever
they do isn’t good enough. We need to find the balance between
providing help and making children work entirely on their own.
Here are some suggestions.
- When children
ask for help, remind yourself that the purpose of homework is to help
them develop good study habits, marshal resources and feel competent
that they can work on their own. Parents’ help should promote
confidence rather than make kids feel less good about themselves.
- Think of
yourself as a homework coach. Help children interpret instructions
and get off on the right track. Then back off and let them do the
assignment themselves. Encourage kids to discover answers on their
own. Ask your child: “What do you think you should do next?”
- Look over
an assignment if you are asked. Point out items that are wrong, but
let the child decide whether to correct them. Says Dr. Craig: “This
policy makes it clear that homework is your child’s responsibility
and is less likely to create power struggles…than if you demand
that he redo the incorrect work.”
- If kids
lose or forget homework assignments, they may need help getting organized.
If they constantly say they have no homework, find out from the teacher
or other parents if this is true. If it is not, ask yourself: Does
she feel unable to do the work? Is he rebelling for another reason?
- Try to
resist the last minute bailout. The major science project that is
due tomorrow, but not yet started. Sometimes it is better to experience
the consequences of not completing an assignment. But if you step
in, be aware that while your child may get a better grade, he or she
is not learning to take responsibility. Afterwards, talk about planning
skills and ask: How can you avoid this problem next time?
feel like you have to know everything. As Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. says:
“Admitting your confusion…may be the best teaching you
can do. Even if you don’t get the answer, you are working together
to solve a problem and that is the basis for the most lasting learning.”
from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg)