Some people think homework is important, others think it's an antiquated regime. Whatever you believe, it is still there and it’s not going away in a hurry. So how do you get a tired child who has been up since 6am - running around all day and dealing with the myriad of issues that a school day involves as well as after-school activities - to do their homework?
Most of us crumble at this stage. Most children do too. We’re more than likely to get fractious and the reluctant child feeds off that and becomes more so. The cycle escalates and becomes a full-blown war as we become entirely unreasonable and start threatening things like no screen time, no dinner and straight to bed because we just want to see the back of them. Yet, if we can make homework an enjoyable routine then all this fades gently into the background.
Sounds unlikely? It’s not! It’s entirely possible but it takes belief from your core to pass this on to your children. They mimic and absorb your every mood and action. If you haughtily suggest that they do their homework, they will haughtily ignore you. If you sigh and tentatively suggest that perhaps they should do their homework, they will stare at you with such melancholy in their eyes that you can’t bear to enforce such a barbarous thing. The effort some children put into not doing homework is frankly amazing. The energy they and we waste avoiding this daily task should be bottled.
So how do we change the whole perception of homework? Firstly, you as a parent have to be involved. I always wanted to know where my children were at with their schoolwork. Doing homework with them was an excellent opportunity to monitor their progress or lack thereof. It was a time of the day when they could show off or ask for your help. It was a time I could be their teacher. My children would sit at the table in the kitchen while I was preparing dinner. They would have their books out and we would start. It was a time to watch how they dealt with those sometimes difficult tasks such as – God forbid – fractions. The main focus here should be on them and giving them the opportunity to shine while showing genuine interest. In time, this routine becomes like brushing your teeth only a lot more enjoyable. But only if you truly enjoy it. They will know when you’re faking it. Children have uncanny ability to do that – they’re positively spooky when it comes to spotting a charlatan.
Imagine a day when you arrive home and your children pull out their homework and start without having to be prompted. Imagine them and you actually working together and conversing about what they are working on. It sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not and it is entirely possible. All it takes is a real belief and interest in what they are doing. Real being the operative word. The battlefront dissolves and all of you can learn together. Homework becomes part of your day and most importantly, they get the opportunity to show you how good they are at something… and you get to smile proudly.
Brisbane dad Luke Denham is a single parent of two teenagers. Luke shares his parenting trials and triumphs at ‘The Collective Parent’, a blog he writes not just for single parents or fathers, but for all parents. Luke follows simple rules for bringing out the best in children so they can be peaceful, loving productive members of our society. Read more from Luke at www.thecollectiveparent.com and www.facebook.com/thecollectiveparent