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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homework Challenge

There are about 4-5 weeks left of school for most children.  The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.  The smiles are getting wider.  Summer is coming and there will be weeks without homework battles. 

If you’re smiling at the thought, think of how your child feels! 

So, in light of the fact that the end is near, I’d like to propose a challenge.  Here’s how to play:

1.     Make a copy of your child’s homework. 
2.     Tell your child that you are going to do his homework as well.
3.     No, you are not going to do his homework for him. (Come on, now.)
4.     Sit down at the dinner table and do the homework while he does the homework.  If your child can’t stop himself from staring at you doing the homework, move your chair.  No copying is allowed.
5.     After you have both completed the assignment(s), compare answers.
6.     Make observations only.  For example, on a math problem you may say,  “ Wow Johnny, I got 423 and you got 634.” 
7.     DO NOT make any negative comments about your child’s work.  (I know, this one is nearly impossible, but shove a wad of gum in your mouth if need be.  Sometimes I just bite down really hard on my lip and the pain swats the negative words away.)
8.     Do this 3 nights in a row, if possible. 

Why should you torture yourself? 

1.     It is important to model efficient study habits.  Seeing you sitting down, slowing down, and working on an assignment sends a clear message.
2.     Doing the homework separately and then comparing answers is a great way to help your child find his or her own errors and make the necessary corrections. 
3.     Doing the work together becomes “special time” rather than “arguing time”.
4.     It is a non-stressful way to watch how your child learns and works. 

Please let me know what happened.  


paulrshortt said...

I tried this for the first time tonight. Genius! Junior Great Books is my son Zac's least favorite homework assignment. It normally takes him hours, tears, several short falls from his chair, and occasional yelling (which I know is not the way for me to encourage him to complete and enjoy his schoolwork.) The assignment was to read a short story and rewrite several questions and write a few sentences to answer them.

Doing it together kept him focused and well paced with me. It made it fun for him and for me it was special time enjoying a story together. Often the questions were more philosophical than factual and we discussed our different responses and learned how we had seen the story from different perspectives. He got done in half the time and got twice as much out of it. For the first time I was truly engaged in his schoolwork and he recognized that.

I grossly underestimated the value of this exercise. I’m not sure which of us looked the least forward to doing his homework. But afterwards I highly recommend it whether your child likes homework or despises it.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Homework IS torture but I've found that my daughter gets it done more quickly and with less frustration if I'm involved in any way. Even just asking questions as she's working on it or making a game out of the questions or timing her on the math. I try to make the time so that we're all less frustrated.