Monday, October 22, 2012

Tricks to Get Out of the Homework Pits


Tricks to Get Out of the Homework Pits

And Treats That Got You There

 by Jennifer Benoit

 There are many reasons that you get into the Homework Pits.  We're going to cover a few of the most popular ones and some potential solutions for your family.  Pits come and go in homework and often show up at the beginning of the year or semester and at the end of the year or semester.  Sometimes when a student thinks she's got her grade "in the bag," homework can tend to slide.  See the treats that lead to the pits below.

  • PIT #1:  Student “forgets” to bring homework home either on purpose...or not

    • Communicate what you expect from your child

    • Continue to keep contact with the teacher.  Ask the teacher to check the homework folder and backpack each day.  This may be a stretch for the teacher, but it is possible in very difficult situations

    • Set the homework time early every day and return to school if you have forgotten it before school closes.

    • Check the backpack with the child as soon as they get in the car or get off the bus.  This bottomless pit can be an empy pit at times!

    • Provide positive reinforcements when a child improves.  Keep a Success Calendar that keeps track of homework brought home and give a small reward when one week, two weeks, three weeks, have been reached.  This could be as small as staying up 15 extra minutes at night or watching a favorite movie on the weekend.

    • Give consequences if it is intentional.  This is a parent’s call.  Often a child needs to have something taken away or a privilege denied if she is refusing to bring homework home, but before any consequences, be sure you talk with the teacher and your child about trying to solve the problem first.  Maybe your child can’t get it together fast enough to remember everything.  Maybe he doesn’t like homework because he thinks he’s stupid.  Many of these behaviors have a root issue.

    • Have a strategy meeting with teacher (and student).  This can happen at any level…and should ALWAYS involve the child for most if not all of the meeting.  Teachers want students to succeed too and will often work their hardest to help make a plan that works…even if it is more work for them.

    • Get a weekly progress report from the teacher.  No matter what level, if a student knows the parent is going to check up on them, it does inspire some action.

  • PIT #2:  Student Refuses to Do Homework

    • Discuss why with your student.  Maybe it doesn’t make sense.  Maybe it isn’t relevant in the student’s mind.  Maybe they just don’t want to bother.  Most of the time, though, in my experience, it is one of three things for older students.

  1. The student is not confident in the material or she has a failing or close to failing grade and has given up.

  2. The student does not understand the relevance of the homework and will “never use it.”  It is hard to deal with this logic, but helping your student recognize that grade point averages matter may help.

  3. The student is angry and rebelling for some reason and is showing it this way.  Many times if a student feels stupid or is angry about other issues, homework goes undone as they try and handle the stresses.  Talking with the teacher and guidance counselor may uncover some stresses parents don’t know about.

  • Strategy Meeting with Teacher – Always strategize with the teacher at any age when homework is undone.

  • PIT #3:  Student does sloppy homework

    • Make your expectations high.  Don’t accept sloppy work from your child.  I had students redo until it looked respectable.  This will follow in life.

    • Suggest using technology.  Sometimes handwriting is a real issue with children so typing assignments are better ideas.  Talk with your child’s teacher about this.

    • Provide positive support and encouragement, but also consequences.  Not being able to watch their show until it is acceptable can work well.

  • PIT #4:  Student consistently demands help in order to complete homework

    • Tell your student you know she can work on it alone.

    • Be conveniently “busy” in another room with a task that you can’t interrupt.

    • Reward good, honest effort with help.  Once she shows you she has tried it, help her.

    • Break the assignment into manageable tasks.  Sometimes students don’t know HOW to get started on assignments.  Be sure you break it down with them and review the directions if you need it.

    • Don’t give in.  I know it is sometimes easier said than done, but it will only get worse if you keep helping them every time they ask.

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