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Are homework expectations realistic for our children?

I become increasingly concerned when I see the expectations being forced upon kids nowadays. It seems that so many kids are cutting themselves, a newer form of stress reduction, and engaging in other escapist, avoidant behaviors to dodge the pressure cooker they live in every day called school. Teachers are pressured by state requirements, they, in turn, pressure the kids, and the parents become pressured by the teacher and the school’s expectations.
Sometimes the expectations are over the top, and your job as a parent is to realize when that is happening and when the expectations are reasonable.
So many kids tell me that if they miss a day or two of school, they are so far behind, that they say, “Why bother,” and subsequently get a poor grade. Kids get sick, and they should feel that they can take the time they need to get well.

Many parents are worried, even at the fourth grade level when homework isn’t done and grades are not A’s and B’s. If the child isn’t motivated to come home after school and begin two hours of homework, they are worried they have a slacker, a lazy kid. I work eight plus hours a day and I don’t usually come home looking for more work to do.

Let’s put things into perspective. Children need to know that they have to do homework to make it through school, and most kids, unless they have serious academic limitations or other learning issues, will attempt to do it. If they downright refuse to do any homework, even a reasonable amount, then you have another problem that needs addressing. Maybe they really don’t understand the work, and aren’t telling you. Maybe they need a different school. Maybe there are emotional issues to be examined. Let them pick a time that’s best for them, and you help them structure that time. If they get restless, and need a break, let them take a break. As long as they return to it, that isn’t a problem.

It is important for parents to admit that most young kids don’t love homework and think of creative ideas to help them through it. Here is what not to do in helping your child with homework:

  1. Don’t ask them to do homework as soon as they get off the bus.
  2. Don’t assume that they aren’t overwhelmed by the amount, and are just lazy.
  3. Understand that most kids don’t love homework
  4. Don’t compare them to others and push them with your own anxiety
  5. Many successful people in life didn’t love homework
  6. Keep in mind your child’s age and motivation to get homework done
  7. Don’t overlook the strengths of a kid who doesn’t think certain things are necessary to learn. That may be true. That kid may have many independent strengths!
  8. Don’t forget to help them when you can. They need support. Some of the work is very difficult
  9. Don’t forget what being young was like for you.

What to do to help kids with homework:

  1. Do help them find a time that works for them to do it.
  2. If they are having trouble with it, troubleshoot as to why. Ask questions.
  3. Do help them find solutions, and acknowledge their negative feelings or difficulty.
  4. Spend time with them when you can, showing enthusiasm toward their subject.
  5. Expect rebellion and procrastination. It will happen.
  6. Keep calm about their consequences if they can’t get it done. They will eventually learn how to handle this.
  7. If you push too hard, you will get your children to lie about doing it.
  8. Show calm when they are filled with anxiety.
  9. Hire a tutor if they need more support.
  10. Love them and believe in them, even when they are not doing what you feel they should be to get ahead.

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