Education.com

# Homework: Lightening the Load (page 4)

By Patty Wipfler
Hand in Hand
Updated on Mar 17, 2011

Staylistening works with homework. Here's one example: My daughter skated through first- and second-grade math, but now it's getting more challenging, and she has to memorize her multiplication tables. This is not something she enjoys, and she has really been resisting it.

The other day, I decided we needed to sit down with a pencil and paper and write the tables out to help her remember them. I was in a good enough place to warmly insist that she write the fours and the sixes.

 Reading The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish (Crown, 2006) The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing by Alfie Kohn (Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2006)

She strangled the pencil through 4 x 1 = 4. At 4 x 2, she didn't like the look of the 2, so she furiously erased it. "This is stupid!" she yelled. She began to write 4 x 3 =, then hurled the pencil onto the tile floor and screamed at the top of her lungs, "I am the stupidest kid ever! No one likes me! I hate school! I hate being me! You are the worst Mommy EVER!" And on for maybe five minutes.

I handed her back the pencil. "I can see how hard this is for you, but I know you can do it. We're going to write the next one. Four times three is twelve." She screamed right at me. No words, just a long, high, powerful blast of noise. By 4 x 4 = 16, the tears started. She went back to her litany of self-hatred and cried hard. We made our way loudly through the fours, and she sat on my lap for a minute before we struggled through the sixes. We thought that was enough math for the day.

The next morning in the car, I asked her to go over her tables with me, and she recited all but one with ease. She is now working on the twelves. Working — not screaming or throwing things. It's pretty amazing how much tension can wrap itself around something like memorization. Here's my math equation: Less tension = More learning.

You can trust your child when she starts to cry or tantrum about homework. It's not a personal failure to cope. It's not a delaying tactic. It's your child's instinct to dump the emotional brew that stands in her way. Sometimes, a big cauldron of feelings drains over time with several emotional episodes, each as passionate as the one before. The process can be loud, even hair-raising. But you can trust your child's sustained outburst to get the job done. With your support, she wins back vital parts of her intelligence. Over time, you are rewarded with a more confident child.

Patty Wipfler, Founder and Executive Director of Hand in Hand, has worked for over 30 years with parents, caregivers and children throughout the U.S. and in 22 other countries. Her booklet series, Listening to Children, has sold over 400,000 copies in 11 languages. She also co-authors a monthly column, "The Connected Parent," at www.CleverParents.com.

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