Mrs. Rachel Ferreiro
Roger D. Gehring Elementary School
1155 E. Richmar
Las Vegas, NV 89123
(702) 799-6899
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Making Homework Less of a Hassle

Resistance to homework, while experienced in many households, is usually unique to each family.

As Ellen Klavan, author of Taming the Homework Monster, put it, “If there's a homework monster in your house, he probably looks a little different from the one next door.”

Klavan cautions parents to avoid escalating homework hassles into “a full fledged power struggle, a battle no one can win and that certainly won't get the homework done.”

Instead, try these strategies:

Active listening. Klavan points out that seeing things from your child's point of view doesn't undermine your authority, but does put you on her side, where she needs to be.

Avoid pressuring your child. Separate your own school experience from hers: she's different and will likely have some similar and some different aptitudes and interests. Don't miss a chance to compliment her efforts.

Be firm about limits and don't accept rude behavior. Be clear about the importance of homework, but don't get into discussions about how or when it'll be done during your child's homework period. Save those discussions for another time.

If homework isn't completed, or is done poorly, discuss the ramifications with your child. Let your child face the consequences with the teacher.

Motivate. Make a star chart or offer some positive reward for getting homework done independently. Don't punish what isn't done by withdrawing a privilege. You're trying to build on positives, not negatives.

Ask your child for ideas about what would make homework more pleasant. Soft music? No siblings nearby? Having you in the room? A snack? Be respective of her ideas and willing to try them. If one idea doesn't work, move on to another.

Do Homework As A Family: But Not For Your Child

Whatever you do, don't do your child's homework for him. Teachers invariably recognize parental input, even if they don't respond as directly as John's teacher. She sent home the note, "Nice work, Mrs. S. Now let's see what John can do."

How do you recognize that fine line between being helpful and taking over?

First, know your child's teacher's policy. Ideally, the teacher will have made clear to both you and your child that confusion is best cleared up the next day at school, or in some cases by calling a classmate. This takes you off the hook and keeps the child in charge, which is what you and the teacher want.

Help your child practice things, such as spelling lists or multiplication tables, but don't write, read, or compute for her. If she's having trouble understanding how to do any of these things, the teacher needs to know it right away.

Provide access to resources, but stay on the sidelines. A trip to the library or to buy craft supplies is going to be necessary now and then, but let your child keep ownership of the project, beginning with the planning stages. You might describe how you try to approach problem-solving, say by brainstorming for a day or so, then by bouncing your ideas off your boss or a friend. But don't give your child specific ideas for her assignment.

Remember, doing too much will lower your child's self-esteem, not raise her grade.

Source: North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 301 North Wilmington Street, Education Building, Raleigh, NC 27601-2825.