Is it for parents or for children? Today homework has become a nightmare for both parents and children. In a time when it seems that every child needs to be a superachiever to survive, the pressure on them to excel not just academically but otherwise is tremendous. While children have never been enthusiastic about doing homework in the first place, they now view homework as being the last straw th
Today homework has become a nightmare
for both parents and children. In a time when it seems that every child needs to be a superachiever to survive, the pressure on them to excel not just academically but otherwise is tremendous. While children have never been enthusiastic about doing homework in the first place, they now view homework as being the last straw that broke the camel's back as they try
to juggle school, tuition classes and other extracurricular activities.
Every parent probably echoes Sheila George's complaints about the homework situation. She says, "I almost dread coming home from work because I know that I'll have to sit with Rishi and
do homework. But I have no choice. If I don't sit with him, nothing is
going to get done. At the end of the day I'm tired and irritable and it
doesn't help that I have to sit down to algebra and fractions, which I
have long forgotten."
Vinod Daswani finds that homework
is always a contentious issue between his son and him. He says, "Akash
is usually such an obedient child, but the minute I mention the word 'homework',
he becomes a monster. He will do almost anything to avoid doing his homework.
He'll run around the house; he'll suddenly remember an urgent phone call or errand; he'll procrastinate and think of a hundred excuses. In short,
he drives me crazy. I try to make him understand that if he spent half
the energy on his homework, it would all be over in about an hour and he
could go down to play."
In Megha Basu's opinion, homework
is an unnecessary burden on children. She says, "Children really have a
rough time these days. The workload is just too much. Between school and
extra-curriculars my daughter just can't cope. I have sat up many nights
finishing my daughter's projects because she just couldn't keep her eyes
open. I think schoolwork should be confined to school hours."
However, this is a bit of an extreme
view. The premise behind setting homework is to reinforce and drive home
what is taught in class. That is why all boarding schools have 'prep time'
after class. After all, revision does lead to better learning.
Tips for dealing
with homework hassles
Appoint a specific time to do homework
every day. Parents should try to ensure that they are around at this time
so that they are on hand if they are needed.
Parents should find out the schedule
of tests planned for the week and help their children organize their homework
time so that they are well prepared.
Avoid power struggles. Confronted with
a whining, tantrumatic child, a parent should first try to maintain her
cool. She should try to lighten the atmosphere, offer help is she thinks
the child needs it, or just leave the room, leaving the child to his own
devices. But she should brook no arguments from the child and be uncompromising
about the fact that the homework must be done, and done immediately.
Parents should regularly encourage their
children and praise their efforts. When a child does well on a test, for
instance, parents while applauding his achievement should remind him that
doing his homework properly and being prepared made the difference.
Parents should make their children feel
that they are interested in their work and offer to help if necessary.
But at no point should parents do their children's work for them. This
will adversely affect a child's motivation and initiative, as he will feel
that at the slightest difficulty his parents will bail him out.
Remember that if a child is cheating
on schoolwork and blindly copying homework from others, it may be a sign
that she is feeling unduly pressured and afraid to admit that she cannot
cope. In such a case, it is advisable that parents speak to the teacher or the school counselor.
Make provision for a special place in
which the child can do her homework, as if it were her personal office.
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- The Indiaparenting Team