Advice Column, Education

Is Homework Becoming the Be-All and End-All?

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  • Category Advice Column, Education

Let me paint a picture…

Sarah, a career driven woman, is climbing the corporate ladder with two degrees behind her name and is about to get her third. As she works full time in a large corporation, she has no choice but to leave her children in after care until 5:30pm because her husband owns his own business and does not get home before 7pm.

Sarah’s day does not end there because, even though her children go to possibly one of the top private schools in the country, they always come home with incomplete homework, assignments due for the following day, and a test thrown in just to make life a little more interesting. All this divulged to her while she is trying to put a semi-nutritional dinner together for her hungry family.

Sarah has no choice but to hurry them all through dinner and bath time just to settle in to all the homework that her children have not managed to complete during their time in after care. Somewhere around midnight and after many tears and tired yawns Sarah has managed to get her two children aged 8 and 10 into bed with just the bare minimum of spelling words learnt and a very average project on volcanoes completed, which Sarah did all the research for herself.

Too late and too tired to spend time with her husband who couldn’t take the arguing and tears and already surrendered himself to bed, Sarah falls into bed herself only to be kept awake by the thought that she is not spending enough time with her kids and asking herself WHY? “Why is there so much homework and why can’t my children do their homework on their own?”

For many parents like Sarah, homework really is the be-all and end-all. But let’s take a moment to look at this issue from the child’s perspective: They are lumped with their week’s sum of homework which might include mathematics revision and reading for every day, a project or an oral on the theme of the particular module that they are on and a weekly test to prepare for. Simple really, when looked at on paper, however, some children look at this giant lump and don’t know where to begin: perhaps they don’t know what the teacher is asking or they don’t know how to plan their week or they simply need a firm but guiding hand to get going.

All of this comes down to the child learning to work independently, a skill that will need to be acquired by high school and most definitely by adulthood. But for one to be able to work independently, he or she will need a certain amount of confidence in their academic ability. For something as fragile as “academic self-esteem” to be healthy, a child will need to have an organised method of tackling their daily work so that they feel that they are in control of their work.

If you have a child that suffers with a low “academic self-esteem”, your child’s road to working independently and confidently starts with you!

  • First of all speak to your child’s teacher because having an open and understanding relationship with your child’s educators will allow all parties concerned insight as to what the main root of child’s low academic self-esteem is and how to go about tackling it.
  • Secondly, provide a space where your child is comfortable to work in with no distractions and enough space to organize him/herself.
  • Thirdly and most importantly have a facilitator, YOU! And if you lead a busy life like Sarah get someone who can do it in your place.

This facilitator must not simply do the homework for your child, because, believe it or not, homework is there to reiterate and therefore refine what has already been taught in the classroom, but merely provide the tools that the child can use to complete his/her work independently.

These tools may be assisting the child with understanding what is expected of them and providing the child with guidelines as to how to complete the work as well as providing the child with the tools to plan, organize and prioritize his/her daily homework.

Once the child is able to do this on their own, one can take a step back and observe how the child utilises these tools on his own and therefore will begin to acquire a confident attitude towards their work.

If you recognise that your child may need help with their homework, don’t delay!! From being unable to complete homework independently there can be a dangerous downward spiral towards a low “academic self-esteem” which can be pretty difficult to come out of and if YOU can’t do it then contact someone who can…

 

 

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  • Anna Vessey April 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Olivia is an amazing teacher. I am a teacher of 9 years and was lucky to have worked with Olivia. She puts 100% effort into making sure the children made progress and enjoyed learning. I would thoroughly recommend her to any of the parents in my class, past and present.

    Anna
    Director of Cultural Language and Arts
    GHS, London, UK

    Reply
  • Anna Vessey April 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

    Olivia is an amazing teacher. I am a teacher of 9 years and was lucky to have worked with Olivia. She puts 100% effort into making sure the children made progress and enjoyed learning. I would thoroughly recommend her to any of the parents in my class, past and present.

    Anna
    Director of Cultural Language and Arts
    GHS, London, UK

    Reply

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