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Homework Strategies: Teaching your Student to Enter the Work

Homework Strategies: Teaching your Student to Enter the Work
Homework Strategies

I think the title of this post is strange. But I will live with it for it describes what I have been thinking.

We have a predictable routine: home from school, have a snack, take a 15 minute break, then homework. She is rested and ready — or so I think. But, sometimes our inventive little one has a difficult time switching gears into homework mode. She, like many, is very busy and has reached the point of overwhelm by 4 pm. I touched on this in a prior post about avoidance. But I need to dig deeper into the discussion about the transition itself. I want mastery over the situation for her sake, and for mine.

(I am starting to hyperventilate as I write this, recalling the frustrating wiggle fest that precedes any homework session. I am reliving the moment and realizing that it is not our finest hour.)

I normally resort to illustrating various approaches, some of them in vain:
  1. the zen thing where I make loose fists and place them on my knees. See? If you just take a deep breath it will be easy to get started
  2. the “just focus and get it done” thing where I put on a serious face and pretend to be filling out the worksheet in record time
  3. the getting annoyed and walking out of the room thing (I am human, but not proud of my behavior when I resort to this)

These are not working. They are simply the last-ditch efforts of a tired parent at the end of the day. Furthermore, they seem weak, and she can see right through them.

It is time for me to brainstorm. I have to figure out how to make that entry process easy for her. This post, therefore, is a work in progress that I will update with our successes and (hopefully zero) failures. Let’s use KWL since it relates to school!

What I KNOW: 

The homework itself is not the problem. And once she is IN homework mode, she quiets right down and gets it done – beautifully.

What I WANT to learn:

I want to learn how to make the entry process easy for her so the transition is smooth.

What I have LEARNED:

Obviously not enough. The aforementioned demonstrations (zen thing, focus thing, storm out of room thing) have not taken hold. So let me juggle some ideas.

I can start by making sure I have taken care of myself. Last week I tried to fly on a handful of popcorn while thinking about the not-yet-cooked dinner and ended up in tears. Math homework should not be making me cry anymore. I left those days behind in 9th grade.

If there is a lot to be tackled at once, I can simplify an overwhelming worksheet by folding over or hiding certain areas.

Being funny works: Talk about the word problems: why does Derek need 1,200 glue sticks after all? It makes the homework an adventure. It can lead to over silliness, so I use with caution. And being funny requires that I be completely on point. I cannot swing funny when I am worn out.

Taking care of my mood: Kids can read us better than we can read ourselves. My little one can sense the growing dread in my chest when homework looms. Cue the wiggling and pretend fainting. My terse, fake smile does nothing to hide this. I end up looking like Church Lady from SNL when I try to pull this off.

Finally, at this moment, I know that it will change. For this reason, I can relax until more answers come. I am an up-all-night-till-I-solve-it obsessive thinker, so I know it is only a matter of time. I will add to this post as the answers come.

Wishing you a wonderful and interesting day.

Photo credit: © Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-DIG-fsa-8d12762, photographer: Collier, John, 1913-1992 / U.S. Farm Security Administration

Homework Strategies: Teaching your Student to Enter the Work

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