Monday, August 13, 2007

Here Comes Homework . . . and Stress!

We’ve only got about a week here until the kids head back to school. I always have mixed feelings about this time of year. It’s good to get the kids weaned off the video games and back into a comfortable routine. But I’m not looking forward to the stress of trying to motivate my kids to do their homework and do well in school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very lucky. My two oldest (the younger two are only in preschool) are both very bright, so they’ve always received good grades, but this has also been a disadvantage because they’ve never had to work very hard to excel. But now that they’re in high school, things have changed a bit. They can’t get by solely on their excellent memories and self-taught knowledge. Teachers will test them on information that was never taught in class, but is only in the textbook. And there are a lot more long-term projects that involve heavy organization and research. My kids can no longer slide by just on their smarts. They have to do some “work”—a term they frequently find poisonous.

There was a recent article in Family Circle that posed the question as to whether our kids are receiving too much homework. Are they getting too “stressed, sleep-deprived and, worst of all, becoming disillusioned with learning”? For me, it’s a tough question to answer. I always had a lot of homework when I was in high school. Yes, at times I was stressed, but I never felt overwhelmed. I always knew there was a purpose to it—to get good grades and get into a decent college. And I usually held down a part-time job at the same time, another thing that my kids gripe about. So, are today’s kids more spoiled than we were, more lazy, less motivated? Are they too distracted by all the entertainment they have now, such as video games, movies, iPods, and extracurricular activities? Or have teachers gotten out of control in assigning homework, feeling they have no choice as more and more expectations are placed on them in the education system? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. Whatever it is, as the article points out, it causes a lot of tension for families.

So, how can we help our kids? The article advises us to provide an appropriate place to get homework done, where it’s quiet and devoid of distractions. And set rules for when homework should be worked on each day. Avoid watching TV while your kids are doing their homework; set a good example by reading or quietly working on something. If your child is having difficulty, never give her the answers; try to lead her to the answers through questions. And, finally, don’t punish your child for not getting his homework done. Let him face the natural consequences of his actions at school.

If all else fails, and your child seems to be ready to break, you may need to have a conversation with the appropriate teachers to determine whether the homework truly is excessive or if the teacher can provide some helpful strategies for success in the classroom.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Susan,

    Here's another resource in the struggle to stay ahead of homework,


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