Parents might think that getting kids to do their homework is all about changing their attitude. But, says, Charles Fay, Ph.D., author and radio host of The Love and Logic Show, which provides techniques for taking raising responsible kids, the problem might not be that kids need to change their attitude. It might be that we need to change our methods.
Here are some of Fay’s back to school suggestions for eliminating the battles before they start, and enabling your child to become the successful student you both want him to be.
Start a homework routine now.
Jumping from summer relaxation straight into the demands of school is a struggle for your child. A few weeks before school starts, assign her chores that must be completed by certain times of the day or week. Mastering a routine at home will make it much easier for her to adjust to the routine of school work
Establish a daily learning time.
Beginning the first week, set a period of time every day after school called Learning Time. This can range from half an hour to two hours, depending on your child’s age and abilities. Note: it’s not your typical homework time. During this time, your child can choose to learn in one of three ways: by doing her homework, by thinking about her homework, or by doing something else. Tell your child, “If you choose the second or third option, you might also want to think about what you’re going to tell your teacher tomorrow.” As a parent, your job is then over.
“There are two things we want from this approach,” Fay explains. “First, we want kids to understand that learning is not something we force on them. Second, we hope that they’ll make some poor choices during this early time in their lives.”
Why would we want that? Fay says a child who is pushed all the way through school may never develop the internal drive she needs to truly succeed. As a result, when she gets to college or takes on her first job, she won’t excel. “It’s much better to let her learn lifelong lessons about self-motivation now, when the price tag is still small,” Fay says.
Let your kid learn her way.
When your child insists on having her way, let her, says Fay. This can be a difficult step for parents. We naturally think that children must be kept on the right path with their studies, and it seems negligent to stand back and let them take the wrong one. “It’s OK to let her try things her way. That’s how she’ll learn,” he says.
Help him only when you’re getting along.
Fighting with your son over homework teaches him very quickly to think of learning as painful. When he starts to get unpleasant, just stand up and say, “I love you too much to fight over this. You can choose what you’d like to do.” Then you can leave him to work it out for himself, or to decide that he really does want your help. Again, this can feel like a bad idea to a parent, but separating fighting from learning helps create a child who truly wants to learn.
Be sure she works harder than you.
It’s easy to start taking over your daughter’s homework, especially at the beginning of the year. Remember, she’ll benefit only from her efforts, not yours.
Protect what’s most important.
“The truth is that the quality of a child’s relationship with his parents is a better predictor of his success than how well you police his homework,” Fay says. If you demonstrate a love for learning, your son will do the same because he wants to be like you. Start the school year by protecting and nurturing your relationship with your child – even if he doesn’t follow your advice – and you’ll not only have that relationship forever, but you’ll be doing a better job of helping him succeed both in school and in life.
Battling with kids over homework is as miserable for kids as it is for parents. Starting the school year by allowing your child to handle her homework her way – even if you don’t always agree with her choices – enables her to make safe mistakes early, so she can learn valuable lessons that will benefit her in everything she does. “It’s called speeding up real life,” says Fay. It also frees her from viewing learning as a miserable coercion. Instead, she experiences it for what it really is: an enjoyable life-long adventure.