Parents' attitude to homework is crucial. An enthusiastic parent, who sees homework as an opportunity for supporting and supplementing his child's learning, will have greater success, not only at the time of doing the homework but long term positive effects will show as your child becomes infected with your positivity. Children learn by modelling themselves on the adults in their world. A parent who approaches homework with a positive, enthusiastic attitude, is a role model whose teaching spawns long term good work ethic and positive attitude to learning. The children of these parents will do their homework regularly, will therefore be better prepared for the work being taught at school the following day and find the new work easier to assimilate and remember. They will find learning easier and have greater success!
Success helps develop a strong positive self esteem and the foundations for a love of learning which can carry them through life.
So how do we fuse these two into a new positive and utilise its power instead of having it explode in our faces? Here are some key steps to beginning a positive homework routine:
1. Create a homework area which is organised, comfortable and welcoming. If you can afford to have a special child’s desk, keep a set of pencils, pens, paper, sharpener, ruler and eraser in a desk-tidy on it. Place a chair next to the desk for you to sit on while you support him and teach him the work that needs extra input. If the desk is in his bedroom, let it face away from the window and his toys! These only provide distractions when he is struggling to focus on his homework. If you do not have a desk, you can adapt the dining table and chair to the correct height by placing a telephone directory or thick cushion on the chair to raise the seat and place a stool or more telephone directories under your child's feet. When he sits to write his homework, your child's feet should be supported and the worktop should be at elbow height.
2. Have a routine time to do homework. The best time is before he goes out to play but after he has had a light snack. It is very difficult for a child to focus attention when he is tired or hungry and it is equally difficult to call him away from his friends and games if he has already begun to play before doing his homework. Having playtime after homework, serves as a reward for homework completed!
3. Have a clock to show how much time is being spent on each section of the homework. This helps your child develop a sense of time and how long different parts of work take. This will become very useful when he moves to higher grades and begins to write examinations. More immediately, it helps keep your child motivated by seeing that he only has ten minutes left. It is important to not let homework drift on and take too long. Check with the teacher how long the homework is expected to take and discuss problems with her if homework seems to be taking much longer.
4. Movement breaks are important in order to keep your child's energy and focus optimal during homework. Younger children will need to get up and move after about 15 minutes of concentration. Watch your child for signs of restlessness or "shutting down". When you see signs of stress or restlessness and you notice that his attention is waning, let him get up and have a brief (about 2-3 minutes) of intense movement. Good movements to use are: 'star-jumps'; trampoline (if you have a small one in the room) and hopping across the room.
5. Make sure he has a glass of water before beginning his homework. The effects of dehydration on circulation and "thinking energy" begin even before we feel thirsty; so don't wait until your child says he feels thirsty. Homework uses a lot of "thinking energy". Your child is remembering and reinforcing the work he began learning in school and needs to focus his attention. The brain, like all our organs, works best when it is hydrated. Dehydration slows blood circulation, which means you do not get good flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. If he is a little dehydrated, your child will seem tired, listless and unable to cope with the "thinking" demands of the homework.
Following these simple tips will help defuse the explosive difficulties of homework. Your children will be among those who develop a positive attitude to homework and learning. They will begin to enjoy the sense of success that leads to a love of learning and a positive self esteem. Homework CAN be a success story!
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