Children hate home work. It’s a rarity to come across a kid who loves to do home work. You, as a parent feel equally burdened and stressed as your kid struggles to complete the home work on his/her own, and expects you to help out or do it for him/her. The kid tries all his tricks to avoid the home work to the extent possible.
Then why have this unwelcome daily routine mandatory, you may ask. What purpose does the home work serve? Are they not supposed to take care of all the learning requirements at the school? Why burden both the kid and the parents? If these questions arise in your mind, just open up to the imperatives and ways of making home work less of an unwelcome ritual.
Why Home Work?
The right type and amount of home work serves to teach essential skills of life, not just improve the academic competencies of kids. It helps them to organize themselves, set goals and stay on course to achieve them, concentrate and improve their memory, manage their time, keep up their motivation and work consistently.
Studies conducted at Duke University suggest that, at the elementary level, there is hardly any effect of home work on academic improvement; however, it helps to enhance the skills of organization, persistence, diligence, capacity to postpone gratification etc., that are critical for learning in later years. At the middle school level, performance improvement is noticed when the kids do home work for 90 minutes a day. The efficacy of home work peaks at the high school level when children do home work for at least 5 to 10 hours per week.
What are the home work blues for the kid? How can you help?
1. The home work may be excessive and time consuming, driving the kid to lose interest and look for ways to avoid it.
If the problem persists, check out with the teacher and arrive at a homework scheme that best sustains the level of interest for the kid by reducing the quantum or shortening it in the long term.
Routinely, however, help your kid plan the home work and do large assignments in smaller chunks. The kid won’t feel overwhelmed.
Ask the kid to finish the hardest assignment first, so that with the freshness available at the start, the kid is able to concentrate better and spend more time on it. Similarly, preparations for tests must not be postponed till the last minute. It must be started earlier, done in smaller chunks and practiced more before the date of test.
Let the kid know that not doing home work is not an option and that there will be consequences which are avoidable, if the kid takes up the routine with commitment.
2. The home work may be too difficult for the kid, at his/her level of capacity or learning pace. This again will drive the kid to lose interest and commitment for the home work.
As a parent, first attempt to see if you can help by devoting the required time and energy to strengthen the understanding of basic concepts up to a level from where the kid is able to take off on his/her own. Never do yourself what the kid should do. If, in the long term, you find that you are not able to sustain it, you may need to think of hiring a tutor; it may not be for the sole purpose of getting home work completed but to help the kid with understanding of basic concepts, at his/her pace.
3. The home work may be downright boring for the kid.
With so many distractions around, and his favourite pastimes like TV programme, computer game etc., lurking in the corner and beckoning him/her, the kid is bound to feel any home work boring as he/she feels compelled to do it.
You have to step in here to discipline the child’s mind to stay focused on the home work till it is finished, before getting on to his/her favourite pastimes. You must also help the kid find a quiet corner to do his/her home work with all the seriousness, interest and consistency required, without any distractions. You should also work out a daily home work schedule, preferably at the same time every day, which doesn’t clash with your kid’s favourite programmes or other activities.
Always encourage and support your kid to complete the home work on his/her own. When the kid is engrossed in the work, do drop in, give a hug, pat and say a few kind and encouraging words and give a favourite drink or snack. The kid understands and appreciates your support and hence will be able to breeze through the grind. Very soon, it will become second nature for your kid to automatically sit down for the home work. The kid will also begin to enjoy the home work when he/she understands the larger significance of home work in the learning phase.
If you have any specific issue that is troubling you or any strategy that worked for you and your kid, please share.
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