1. New Beginnings: First and foremost students need to understand that each year is a brand new start. Yes, it is easy to fall back into old habits but if last year did not go the way you or your child wanted it to, then you both have the opportunity to start fresh. A self-fulfilling prophecy has been defined by www.businessdirectory.com as, “Any positive or negative expectation about circumstances, events, or people that may affect a person’s behavior toward them in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled. In other words, causing something to happen by believing it will come true.”
This is not what we want to see happen. Thinking about your approach to homework difficulties before they arise and being aware of what caused you and/or them to get frustrated is a good start. What else was going on at the time? Did you find you were trying to rush your tween/teen to keep them moving on your own schedule? Were they so involved in after school programs that they “ran” from one thing to the next with no time to themselves? Were your expectations really realistic? Or were you just assuming that it, “shouldn’t take that long?” Your child is NOT you. They need above all else to know they are loved and that this year is truly a new beginning.
2. Mindset: Kids also need to know they are capable of doing anything they put their minds to. It is okay to fail provided they learn from that and figure out what to do to improve. The learning is more important than the grade. Let me repeat that, the learning is more important than the grade (suggested reading Carol Dweck, Mindset)
3. Job Requirements: Children need to remember that school is their “job.” As a job there are certain responsibilities just like any other job. You are required to do the work, put in your best effort, manage your time and your attention so that you can get your work done and still have time to yourself. No one should “work” a 12 hour day. FYI: Homework does not need to be perfect. The teacher needs to know what your child really knows and is capable of on their own, versus what they assume when they see a perfectly neat, correct homework that the two of you spent hours on.
4. What’s up? Each week everyone in the family needs to know what is up and what might interfere with homework time. Try to not schedule dentist appts or one-time events into their week without giving them notice. If something is scheduled like an organization class each week, have them block it out in their agenda and set a reminder on their phone. Sunday family meetings are a great way to start the week. Everyone knows what is happening that week and there are no surprises. Remember how it feels when your boss throws something at you unexpectedly?
Also decide together what time homework will start. Allow a 20-30 minute break when coming home. Take a 5 minute active, non-electronic break in between subjects. Keep an analog clock within view. Read the directions and picture what the finished homework will look like and then begin.
5. The basics: the school layout and where key places are such as: locker (and the combination), bathrooms on each floor, classrooms (and the quickest path to each), office and lunch room. Know the rules about cell phone use and iPods. Listen for teacher expectations like the homework rules, (late policy) where to find HW information (back board, online portal, does it get passed in or corrected together, etc.), test days, gym days, and any other information that can easily be assumed they “should” know but may not.
It’s a new beginning for students, parents and teachers too. This is your opportunity to set the expectations before problems begin and have a plan of action before it is needed. No homework is worth the stress that it can create. If you and your child “battled” last year, it may be time for a third person to step in. We are offering group classes in cooperation with the South Shore Learning Lab in Norwell and our one on one weekly or biweekly sessions now include accountability check-ins between sessions and parent updates. Contact us today as slots are filling fast.