Homework 101, by Dr. Dan Peters

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“Why do I need to do more work after I have been at school all day?“

“I never get any free time! I have school all day then homework when I get home!”

“Why do we have to do the same thing over and over when I already know it?”

Do these questions and pleas sound familiar?

I am guessing they do! Many parents don’t remember having the amount of homework our children have today, and most do not remember homework starting in kindergarten! Homework has been become a regular parenting topic in my practice, and a primary cause of family arguments and stress.

When it comes to homework, and grades for that matter, I advise my clients (and try to embrace this with my own kids as well) to focus on the big picture. Here are some things to think about:

· Ask yourself whose job the homework is – yours or your child’s?
· Listen when your kids say it is boring and repetitive, as it may be
· Validate their frustration that they don’t have enough free time
· Explore the idea that they have a choice whether or not to do their homework and help them understand the consequences of each
· Give them choice about whether they do homework directly after school or after down time
· Offer to help while being mindful not to micromanage
· Empower them to talk to their teacher if they have questions or concerns
· Talk to your child’s teacher if you think they are spending more time than most, having considerable difficulty, or already have mastered the material

We often get caught up in the leaves and trees when it is often best to focus on the forest. Remember that your relationship with your child is more important than their GPA. Remember that you are trying to raise your child to ask questions, think about their choices, and make informed decisions. Also remember that schools and companies want creative thinkers who can communicate. Homework does teach responsibility and discipline – also important qualities for life success. In the end, try to keep perspective, pick your battles, stick to your your overall parenting goal of raising children who are engaged in life and finally remember summer will be here soon!

This piece first appeared in the Parent Footprints column of the Diablo Gazette.