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Handling the Homework Horrors

Handling the Homework Horrors

As the air turns cooler and school bells signal the start of a new year, parents around the nation are gearing up to help their children complete homework. There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than watching a child struggle under a heavy load of work or looking at your 4th grader and admitting that you can’t do this type of math either.

The homework horrors hit the best of us. But, if you’re already living in agony about the homework that you’ve found crumpled in the bottom of this year’s Superman backpack, then take a deep breath, grab a glass of sweet tea, and remember that there is hope.

As a former teacher, I’m often asked, “So, what’s a parent to do when everybody is stumped by the math problems at hand, or when it’s 11:00 p.m. and you’ve just learned that your 6th grader needs a clay model of the brain by 8:00 a.m. tomorrow?” Short answer: Don’t panic! There is a way to combat the homework horrors without losing your sanity. Consider these friendly tips:

  1. Keep a monthly “Papers and Projects Calendar” in your home. Write down the due dates for major assignments (longer papers, creative projects, or oral reports). This reminds you to tackle the bigger assignments early.
  2. Check to see if your child’s teacher or teachers have a web-based listing of daily, weekly or monthly assignments. If so, use that site to update your calendar and to track due dates.
  3. Stay in regular communication with the teacher, especially if your child is prone to forgetfulness. If you’re uncertain about due dates or project assignments, email the teacher.
  4. If your child struggles with an assignment and you cannot help them understand, write a note or an email to the teacher explaining that you tried to help but neither of you could figure it out. This at least tells the teacher that the issue is lack of understanding rather than apathy.
  5. Keep nightly homework assignments as a priority on the schedule. Children need time to unwind, play, and relax when they get home from school, so don’t be too concerned about starting homework as soon as they get off the bus. But tackle that homework earlier in the evening so there’s not a gnashing of teeth at 11 p.m.

Most importantly, talk to your child. Talk often and discuss how he/she feels about the assigned schoolwork.  If your child is really struggling in a subject, they may be too embarrassed to admit it, which means the homework isn’t completed. Know how they are feeling and communicate the struggles and anxieties to the teacher so everybody stays positive and proactive.

Bottom line: Hang in there with the homework, take it a day at a time, and remember nobody is perfect. If you do this, you’ll have a win-win for everybody.

By: Dr. Lori Brown is a southern educator and writer who enjoys inspiring families to remain grounded in their faith.

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