If you’re like we are in my home, or the home of the clients, school is in full swing! Let’s stay on it as parents so that we can help our children have the best school year possible.
Let’s check in with ourselves. How’s it going so far? Are you as parents where you want to be in providing a structured environment for your child’s academic (and social) success? Just what are you doing differently from last year as a parent and what are you hoping your child does differently?
Why is a “structured environment” important for your child? I like to ask parents this simple question:
“If your kid had a job, what would be the best type of boss for him/her? The type of boss who says ‘I don’t care when you get here or when you leave. Just get the work done when it’s best for you. ‘ Or does your child need a boss like this: “Your shift starts at 8:00 and these are the duties you’ll be doing until your 10:30 break. At 10:45 you’ll be doing this until lunch, which lasts one hour. At 1:00 you’ll be doing this, until your day ends at 4:30″.
If you answered with boss #1, Congratulations!!! Your child is a self starter. That’s pretty rare.
If you answered boss #2, join the rest of us. Many children need structure to succeed. They need plans, guidance, goals and rewards. Simply put, they need parental direction to get the most out of their efforts. Just what type of direction your child needs is best determined by you. Figure out what works, and what doesn’t work. You don’t need to go overboard to have structure in your home that makes sense.
Let’s start with some things that I work:
A set and scheduled time for homework. I believe that most children benefit from a set time for homework. They can plan for this time, and can move their play/social schedule around it. Moving homework around their play/social schedule is a set up for problems.
A set place for homework. Let’s show our children that it’s best to have a work station where we get in the mode for work. I even have kids wear a certain hat for homework. Anything that gives the message “It’s the time and place for work”, is most productive.
Say NO to TV and music during homework time. This issue is a constant battle in my home. My girls say they work better when the TV is on the the background. I say baloney! TV and music are distractions. Let’s just make a rule that the work station be about work. And that TV and music is for after. Yes there are some exceptions to this rule, but watch out!
An offer of help when needed. Be available for your child during their homework time so that you can provide assistance or support when asked. I don’t believe in sitting there the whole time, but let’s be around during their homework time. I often stay in the same room while I do my own paperwork or I read a book. Be around but don’t be overbearing.
Have a reward for being done! This seems obvious, but you’d maybe be surprised at how many times parents give me a blank look when I ask what the reward for being “done with homework” is. Every kid is different, but let’s have some incentive for our kiddos do get all of their work done. A game, special snack, walk, or TV all are powerful incentives.
Ok, that’s a pretty short list that I’ll need to add to, but let’s no focus on what doesn’t work!
It’s their homework, not yours! In their book Patenting With Love and Logic, Foster Cline and Jim Fay are quick to point out that we never want the child to feel like the ownership of their homework (among other things) is ours. Never act as if it’s your homework, or that the problem is the homework not being done is yours. Cline and Fay point out the truthful statement of “If you’re going to worry about it, why should I”. If the homework becomes yours, so are the grades. Keep a balance approach to this. Provide guidance and let them own their struggles/successes.
Don’t “make them” do their homework! Cline and Fay are also correct that you can’t “make” your child do their homework. Your job as a parent is to give them the opportunity to do their homework. A time and a place. The rest is up to them. No of course, they can’t “move on” until their homework is complete (more on this later), but that’s their problem, not yours. I’ve known kids who will sit for hours playing with a pencil instead of applying their focus on the assignment in front of them. If this is going on, make sure you have your child screened for ADHD.
Don’t over-schedule your child! I could go on and on about this one. Go here for a great book suggestion. Simply put, many children are over-scheduled to the point where they are unable to be at their best in all aspects of their life. They live with a relentless to-do list, with their parents feeling like it’s their job micro-manage every aspect of their child’s life. These are the kids who are eating at 8:30 because they have an after school schedule so booked they have no time to relax and play. Home work at 9:00? Yeah, that’s a good plan. Let’s go with balance. Know your child and look for signs of him/her being over-scheduled. Have PLAY be a value in your family and teach that we need to re-charge our batteries to be at our best.
I’ll be back with more.
Here’s your reminder of the 3 Family Rules. Post them and use them!
The 3 Family Rules
1. We are Kind To Each Other
2. We All Do Our Jobs
3. We Are Honest and are Always Where We Say We Are
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I welcome any feedback or suggestions. I’ll still be blogging here my ideas on Children and Families.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” - Aristotle
William Strong, LCSW
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