Have you ever asked yourself: What am I telling my children about homework? What should I be saying to my children to help them understand the purpose of their homework?
I have given it some thought. I hope my musings give you a little extra help with explaining why homework is important.
I want my children to know that conquering their homework can help them gain a good self-image. Maybe this goes without saying, but I don’t want homework battles to damage my children’s self-image. As a child with dyslexia, I often struggled with self-image due to struggles with homework. For me it wasn’t as easy as sitting down and putting pen to paper. Sometimes the process of learning came with serious obstacles, as I mentioned in my last blog “Inside the Mind of Dyslexia.” Those obstacles caused me to doubt my worth as a person. Therefore, one of my goals as a mom is to help my children develop strategies to overcome any and all obstacles they might face.
I want my children to know they can come to me for help. Because learning is a process, there is room for failure, and any improvement is good improvement. That means when one of them has a weak subject, he or she knows he or she can come to me. We will sit down and develop a plan for that child to achieve success. They aren’t alone, and, if I can’t help them, I will find help for them, but it’s their responsibility to take the help and to do the work. Their job is to learn and to acquire knowledge to the best of their ability.
I want my children to know that learning is a process. When my children are groaning under a pile of homework, I remind them that learning is a process and anything worth having is worth working for. “A’s don’t fall out of the sky,” I tell them, “A’s are earned one accomplishment at a time.” I don’t demand “A’s,” but I don’t want them to have the false assumption that those who make “A’s” have an easier time than they are having.
I have done my best to convey that learning doesn’t happen magically because learning is the process of gaining bits of information as one masters the subject. It helps them to refrain from giving up when they get stymied by a subject that isn’t their strong suit.
I make a point to cheer for even the slightest improvements in their work, thus reinforcing the message that they are gaining ground in the “process” of acquiring mastery of the subject. Again, I want them to feel successful.
I want my children to know that learning is a LIFELONG process. As a parent it is important to realize that learning never ends. Our children need us to lead by example. I learned a valuable lesson when finishing my degree last spring.
My children saw me doing homework. They knew I was writing papers and studying for tests. Every time, I would make an “A”, we would celebrate. I had no idea that I was setting an example for them. To my surprise, this year all three of my kids have become straight “A” students. Why? Because, they realized learning is a lifelong process. Although all three of my children are elementary age, they are talking about what college they want to attend.
Your children need to see you in the learning process once in awhile. Even if you only read a book or take a painting class. There is a message you send about lifelong learning when your kids see you involved in the process. I believe it helps them gain perspective about their own studies and the value of their work. Lead by example.
I want my children to know that homework is preparing them for future success. The idea of helping one’s future self is a major topic for discussion in my household. Although my children are age eight, nine, and 10, I feel that they need to realize they have a future. Their success or failure could depend on the habits that they embrace today.
Because learning is a “lifelong process” that means that throughout life they are going to encounter situations where figuring out the best course of action will require them to research, investigate, listen, and assimilate information in order to come up with the proper solution for the problems they are bound to face. Homework teaches them those skills so I encourage them. Rather than railing against the process of learning, they should embrace it, thus helping their future self.
Also I am quick to point out times when I have to use those skills to navigate situations that arise in my life. It helps them gain perspective as to why they need the aforementioned skills homework provides.
All our children are not created equal where academics is concerned; each child is unique. Therefore, it is important to emphasize the positives and encourage them in the subjects which they struggle with. This is about teaching your children a work ethic. It isn’t easy, but it is worth it.