Homework — Is It Your Child’s or Yours?

parent doing child's homework

parent doing child's homeworkDear Mr. Dad: I’m an involved dad and I often help my kids with their homework. Sometimes, in the interests of speeding things along, I give them the answers. Over the past year, both kids (11 and 9) are coming to me more and more often, asking for help even when I know they don’t need it. I tell them to figure it out, they whine, and eventually I give in to the pressure. How can I get them to start doing their work by themselves?

A: It’s great that you’re an involved dad—and it’s great that you’re taking an active role in your kids’ education. But by doing their homework for them (let’s be honest—that’s exactly what happening), you’re undermining their ability to learn good study habits. What’s far worse is that you’re sending them the very clear message that you don’t think they’re smart enough to do their own work. From what you say, they’re starting to believe you, and that’s tragic.

So the question you asked: How can you get the kids to start doing their work by themselves—is the wrong one. The real issue is: How (and when) are you going to stop caving when they ask for help that you acknowledge they don’t really need?

The answer is pretty simple: You need to stop cold turkey and you need to do it now.
[Read more…]

The Learning Habit + Hyper


Rebecca Jackson, co-author of The Learning Habit.
Topic:
A groundbreaking approach to homework that helps kids succeed in school and life.
Issues: Recent research on learning—what works and what doesn’t; managing our kids’ media use; supporting academic homework and reading; mastering time management; communicating effectively; learning to focus; developing self-reliance.



Timothy Denevi, author of Hyper.
Topic:
A personal history of ADHD.
Issues: What it’s like to be a boy who can’t stop screaming or fighting or fidgeting; startling stats about ADHD (1/5 of high-school-age boys and 11 percent of all school-age children have been diagnosed with ADHD; the evolution of drug treatments; understanding this complex and controversial diagnosis.

Pregnancy Myths + Manipulative Kids + Overcoming School Anxiety

[amazon asin=1594204756&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better.
Topic:
Why the conventional pregnancy wisdom is wrong–and what you really need to know.
Issues: Why it’s fine to have an occasional glass of wine; don’t worry about sushi–but wear gloves when you’re gardening; worry about gaining too little weight, not too much; why pregnancy nausea is a good sign; having a doula can decrease the chance of needing a C-section.


[amazon asin=0399535268&template=thumbleft&chan=default]David Swanson, author of Help–My Kid Is Driving Me Crazy.
Topic:
How kids manipulate their parents.
Issues: Why kids manipulate; Learning to recognize 17 distinct types of manipulate and what you need to do to disarm them.


[amazon asin=0814474462&template=thumbleft&chan=default]Diana Peters Meyer, author of Overcoming School Anxiety.
Topic:
Getting kids ready for school.
Issues: How to help your child deal with separation, tests, homework, bullies, math phobia, and other worries; telling the difference between normal start-of-school jitters and anxiety that warrants a call to the specialists.

The Homework Trap + Helping Your Kids without Freaking Out

[amazon asin=061557680X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenneth Goldberg, author of The Homework Trap.
Topic: How to save the sanity of parents, students, and teachers.
Issues: The science behind homework difficulties; what homework looks like from the student’s perspective; understanding the reasons behind children’s homework problems; why the suggestions and solutions you’ve been offering may be doing more harm than good.


[amazon asin=098399000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Neil McNerney, author of Home Work.
Topic: How to help your child without freaking out.
Issues: Recognizing your personal strengths (and weaknesses) and using harnessing them; identifying the individual ways your child deals with homework and other stressors; learning to use three powerful leadership techniques to help your child achieve success.

Science of Homework Problems + Helping Kids with Homework + Employment Programs for Military Spouses and Veterans

[amazon asin=061557680X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 1: Kenneth Goldberg, author of The Homework Trap.
Topic: How to save the sanity of parents, students, and teachers.
Issues: The science behind homework difficulties; what homework looks like from the student’s perspective; understanding the reasons behind children’s homework problems; why the suggestions and solutions you’ve been offering may be doing more harm than good.


[amazon asin=098399000X&template=thumbnail1&chan=default]Guest 2: Neil McNerney, author of Home Work.
Topic: How to help your child without freaking out.
Issues: Recognizing your personal strengths (and weaknesses) and using harnessing them; identifying the individual ways your child deals with homework and other stressors; learning to use three powerful leadership techniques to help your child achieve success.


Guest 3: CAPT Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces.
Topic: Employment programs for military spouses and veterans.
Issues: Ensuring the professional licenses will be accepted nationwide; job training for returning veterans; ensuring that high school AP coursework will be accepted even if the student transfers mid-year; and much more.

I’m Only Going to Say This 100 More Times…

Dear Mr. Dad: We’ve tried to stress the importance of study habits to our 12-year-old son. But no matter what we do or say, he seems to end up playing video games instead of doing his homework. What can we do to make him start taking studying seriously?

A: Whoa. Before we get to the homework thing, we need to talk about the real issue: What can you do to get your son to start taking YOU seriously? The simplest approach (although, I admit that it’s not going to be easy) is to take away the video games. Whether it’s confiscating his DS or tablet, locking up his game controllers, or activating the parental controls on his computer, you need to take some firm steps right now. Your son is still young, but if he doesn’t start taking schoolwork more seriously soon, his grades may interfere with his post-high-school education and, eventually, his choice of career.

If possible, get your son involved in the discussion—have him suggest ways he can earn back his gaming time. The more the rules come from him, the greater the chance that he’ll follow them. But make sure he’s got things in the right order. Schoolwork first, then games. No exceptions.

Okay, back to homework—but again, we have to start with a different question: When did this behavior start? If he’s never had any interest in studying, that’s one thing (and we’ll get to that in a minute). But if this is a relatively new development, you need to figure out what’s going on.

Has anything in your son’s life changed recently? Did you just move to a new neighborhood? Could he be having a problem with a teacher? Is there any possibility that he’s being bullied at school? Have you and your spouse been fighting a lot or are you getting divorced? Any of these can cause significant—but usually temporary—changes in study habits.

Your assignment is to get answers to these and other similar questions that could be influencing your son’s schoolwork. This is going to involve spending more one-on-one time with your son and learning about his life and how he feels about things.

The temptation is to sit him down and start grilling him, face to face. Don’t. It’s hard for a teen to interpret that kind of approach as anything but hostile. Instead, start by asking him general questions about school, friends, music and other non-explosive topics. And do this while you’re driving. There’s something about not having to look at each other that can remove some of the barrier to communication. If you listen carefully and resist the urge to lecture, you may get the answers to your questions without actually having to come right out and ask them. And in the process, you’ll be strengthening your relationship with each other.

Now, what if he’s ever been interested in studying? Is it possible that he’s not getting enough intellectual stimulation? This is big. A child who finds schoolwork to be boring may simply tune out.

If it’s not that, communicating with your son will still be the goal, but there’s a twist. In this case, you’ll try to find ways to build on his natural interests. For example, if he loves sports or mechanics or cooking or whatever, start there. And then find ways to introduce math or science or language arts principles through those interests. Showing him that what he’s learning has some actual real-world applications will make it a lot more interesting—and worth working on.