There’s something really magical about back to school time, and something really painful too. The new clothes, sharp pencils, cool weather and return to a productive routine are all things I loved as a child and I still love as a parent.
Now that I am a mom I also get the benefit of a much-needed break from my school-aged children. They are a lot like Axe Body Spray. A little bit goes a long way and too much causes severe headaches.
And then there’s the homework! I’m pretty sure most kids hate homework and the majority of the parents I know hate homework too. I’m not sure how teachers feel about it but my guess is it is a necessary evil for them as well.
I’m not going to start the debate about whether or not homework is effective in helping our kids learn because, as it turns out, nobody asked me. Most teachers are going to assign homework even if I can prove how useless it is.
SO, here are a few totally off the wall tips to help you get through the homework routine without taking the name of your child’s teacher in vain the entire time.
1. Set a fun goal you and your child can get excited about around homework.
I’m not talking about the obvious goals around how complete it is or grades. I mean a FUN goal that you can get EXCITED about.
Each week we will sneak the word “monkey” randomly into your homework somewhere and see how long it takes before your teacher notices.
2. Opt Out.
You heard me. Occasionally allow your child to skip some of the homework if they choose. Before you draft your hate mail to me let me explain.
My 2nd grade daughter told me that if she fails to complete all of her homework by Fridays she gets “benched.” I don’t know about you but that sounds like something that happens to NFL players who are convicted of sexual crimes, not something that my 2nd grader should be worried about. But she is. And while I’m confident that we COULD do all of the homework every time and avoid the dreaded bench, I think as she grows older there will be times when she’s unable to meet an expectation or goal no matter how awesome her effort.
I’d rather she experience that while she’s young and can see that she gets through it just fine. I want her to learn, while the consequence is just a place to sit down, that sometimes she won’t be 100% perfect at something she’s doing and it’s ok. Even when she has to endure the punishment, she can do it and more importantly her dad and I love her just as much. Of course it will have to be entirely her decision or oversight that results in the incomplete homework packet, but as her mom, I will not be disappointed if this happens.
Even a high school student can benefit from the experience of not completing the homework, falling behind and then having to catch up the hard way. I can’t wait until my son is in High School and asks me why he HAS to do homework and I get to say, “You totally don’t have to. Why don’t you try not doing it and lets see if you like that path better?” I’m not talking about letting him fall down an academic hole he can’t climb out of, and I’ll need to be sure we’ve set clear expectations ahead of time. However, the natural consequences of not doing his homework might be just what he’ll need to realize he doesn’t have to do it, he chooses to do it.
3. Give it a name and personality.
Ever notice that when you give your car a name like Rhonda the Honda, you love it a little more? Or how about your golf clubs? On second thought I’m pretty sure my husband loves his golf clubs ALMOST as much as his wife even though they’re just named “golf clubs.” Nevertheless, naming something that’s not actually a person allows you to think about it as being human which taps your imagination and is so much fun.
For example let’s call her Henrietta Homework. Now you can say things like, “How is Henrietta this week? Oh boy she’s angry! Her weigh-in at weight watchers must not have gone well yesterday,” or, “I am totally loving Henrietta this week. She’s so laid-back and fun! I hope she keeps this up!” or how about, “That Henrietta Homework is so selfish! She thinks the whole world revolves around her! Doesn’t she know we have soccer and ballet and the Bachelor to watch on TV?”
4. Notice yourself trying to meet your own needs through your kids’ homework assignments. Then stop.
You know that Science project that looks like something that would get re-pinned a few bazillion times on Pinterest because it is creative and ingenious and perfect? When you see it you KNOW that Brodie-the-5th-grader did not create it? Not alone anyway.
My first though is always, “That poor child’s mother or father has some very unfulfilled needs.”
It’s ok to have needs by the way. We all do. But trying to fulfill them through your child’s homework is a slippery slope towards being on Dance Moms or Toddlers and Tiaras.
If your child WANTS to create an over-the-top project and you’re willing to help, go for it. But when you notice yourself taking over to ensure it is perfect, that is you trying to meet your need to be the best or for your child to be a star or for control or perfectionism or approval or…need I go on? It also could make homework a very daunting task. Let your child do the project and you just provide support even if it’s the sorriest looking Harry Potter diorama the school has ever seen. So much better for everyone.
5. Remember you’ll miss it one day.
Whenever I’m out and about and strangers see me struggling to manage my three young kids they like to tell me to, “enjoy it while they’re young because it goes so fast and before you know it they’ll be grown and gone.” I’m sure you get this a lot too and if you’re like me a little part of you wants to tell them that some days it feels like it’s going slower than the 19-inning baseball game you heard about on the news recently.
But I know they’re right. It will go by very quickly. One day they’ll grow up I will miss having chocolate milk spills on my couch and brightly-colored, plastic Swedish dishes in my dishwasher. OK, I might not miss those things but I’ll miss that they mean my little offspring are nearby for me to love on any time I choose.
I am sure I’ll miss the experience of doing homework with them though. I have memories of my own mom trying to help me learn my times tables and of my dad staying up very late with me to write a report on William Penn. I now know they probably dreaded my homework, but they sat by me as I did it because they love me. As a result I felt very supported and loved and safe and while I never completely conquered Math, my phone has a calculator so it’s all good. As the school year begins and the homework pours in I’m remembering that I want my kids to have many opportunities to feel my love and I won’t always have the chance to offer it to them daily as I do now. Even if it’s through a dreaded chore like homework, I’m ALL IN!
Wishing you and your families an awesome 2014- 2015 school year!
Love your guts…
PS – Thank you for all the messages about how MOM 360 is helping you say goodbye to feeling inadequate and know your a Rock-Star mom doing the things that matter. If you haven’t downloaded your free copy yet, just CLICK HERE!