News & Views
from   The Parenting Center at Abington

.   Getting a Head Start on Homework Hassles

     Ahhh! The kids are back in school. We can sit back, relax and enjoy the quiet until ... homework time! The thought of another year of homework hassles can leave a sense of dread inside many of us - the fights, the chaos, the begging, the scrounging for a sharpened pencil! No thanks! Give me back the homeworkless days of summer. But wait, maybe, just maybe this year, if we do a little homework ourselves, we can approach the whole homework scene a little differently.

   Setting the Stage or The Electric Pencil Sharpener that Saved the World

    Okay, so maybe that electric pencil sharpener did not really save the world but it did make a difference in our house when it came to doing homework. Think about it. How much time does your child (or you) spend just getting ready to do homework? As a parent, we can save ourselves and our children a lot of time and unnecessary anger if we think ahead and plan together the what's and where's of homework.

    What will your child need?

    It helps to have all supplies (pencils, pencil sharpeners, paper, etc.) in a convenient location where everyone knows where they are and everyone knows to put things back so they will be there the next time you need them. It is so hard to do homework when you can't even find a sharpened pencil and it adds unnecessarily to the delay of getting homework done.

    Work with your child to create a space where homework is done. This can be someplace as formal as a desk in the child's room or a special portable office that can be set up anywhere. Include in your planning a place where schoolwork and other important papers can be stored until needed.

   Decorating a box or purchasing an office in/out bin can help make this place special.

    The more fun and creativity you add to setting up a space, the more your child will feel comfortable being there and doing that homework, especially if you include some of your child's ideas. When setting up a space keep in mind that your child is his or her unique self and a space that may seem perfect for you, may not be the perfect space for your child given his or her age and temperament.

    Work Together, Work Apart!!!

   Homework can be a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children and teach them about the valuable lifelong skills of time management, responsibility, resourcefulness and autonomy. Talk with your child about how he or she studies best based on his or her own temperament, learning style and biological clock, and then work together to set up an afterschool schedule that includes freetime, homework, dinner and extracurricular activities. Teach your children how to be organized and how to plan out long and short-term projects; and have calendars available to help them do that.

   Most important of all, learn to set boundaries for yourself. It is easy to forget that our children's homework is their work and a reflection of their abilities, not ours. Be able to stay separate yet available if your children should have any questions or need help.

   Attitude, Attitude

   Do you often find yourself complaining about your children's homework as much as they do? And then find yourself getting angry at your children for their poor attitudes about schoolwork? It is easy to get caught up in the battle. Trying to understand and help our children with their homework can be a very frustrating endeavor. Add to that the desire to have a somewhat "normal" family life that includes some relaxation and fun after school and you can understand why many a parent are as frustrated with homework as their children.

   Sometimes a shift in attitude on our part can make a world of difference in our homelife. When it comes to homework, we are powerful role models for our children. How we view homework, whether as something positive or something dreadful, will have a great impact on how our children view homework. Our job is to let our children know that we all have our "jobs" that need to get done, whether it is making a shopping list, outlining a birthday party, doing your own real work at home or reading a book. We can help to set the tone for getting work done by doing our own work with a positive attitude. And remember all of those lifelong skills we are trying to model and teach our children!

   Will this really help? Maybe. When you find yourself struggling or engaging in homework wars with your children, it can feel comforting to know that first of all, you are not alone and second, there are resources available to help empower you and your children with information and skills to help turn these wars around.

   Some suggested sources for more information include:

   How to Talk so Kids Can Learn by Faber and Mazlish;

   Mom's Guide to Raising a Good Student by Poretta and Borden;

   Taming the Homework Monster by Klavan;

   Beyond the Bus Stop by Weyhmuller.

    Do not forget that your children's teachers can provide helpful hints as well. Your local parenting center can also be a great source for information and support.

    When it comes time to implement change, think of your children first and share your concerns about homework with them. Engage their help in exploring ways to make this year's homework time, if not more enjoyable, at least more tolerable. Remember, the more input your child has in making the decisions about his or her homework, the more likely you will be to get compliance and cooperation. And when all else fails, remember the electric pencil sharpener!


By: Deanna Bosley, Certified Parenting Educator

September 2000
Vol. 3/ No. 1

A publication from The Parenting Center at Abington
P.O. Box 596, Abington, PA 19001 (215) 576-0586

Printing of this newsletter is courtesy of the Abington Memorial Hospital.

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