Is your Sunday routine something like mine?
- Family up a little later or if not up but around the house more laid back than a weekday.
- The joint in the oven or slow cooker, potatoes peeled and veg ready.
- Ironing the clothes that you’ve finished washing and drying all weekend.
- Making sure all children are on top of their homework for Monday morning.
It was all in control until I said HOMEWORK!!!
In fairness I have very studious, dedicated boys. The eldest has always been that way, the second has been that way for the past fifteen months or so. Better late than never 🙂
They do their homework. I sign their planners. It’s that simple.
Now the little one who is not that little and is certainly of the age where she can do her homework independently. She likes to try it on a bit:-
“I can’t do my homework because I’ve broken the rubber off the top of my pencil…”
“I can’t do my homework, it’s too difficult…”
“I’m too tired to do my homework. I need a nap.”
“I need to go to the toilet first.”
Any displacement activity excuse and she uses it. Particularly with maths.
“Few like maths, nobody comes to school for maths.” A secondary teacher once told me.
He was wrong. My eldest son lives for maths.
Naturally as a parent I look at the bigger picture. Maybe she’s struggling. I’m sitting here trying to help her with maths, her big brothers are sitting here doing HER maths.
“Mum, she can do it…” My son told me, “It’s just telling her what to do.”
He wasn’t telling me anything that I hadn’t considered. However, I decided we wouldn’t do her homework one weekend as I wanted to speak to the teacher. Well we did the bits she could do and left the rest. So I spoke to the teacher:-
“I think my daughter is struggling with her maths. I think you need to give her easier maths. Me and her brothers are sitting and doing her maths with her, she says she doesn’t understand it.”
The teacher quite rightfully kept her in at playtime to finish her homework and told me.
“She can do her homework independently, the maths she is set is not above her, she just likes somebody else to do it for her.”
I got it. The answer I believed in all along. Sometimes we just need that professional input.
When teachers set homework they are giving our children practise to what they’ve already been taught. They might not know the actual answer but they will have been taught the theory behind how they get to an answer – particularly when they’re 11! They might have a blip and that’s the time to help our children and point it out to the teacher. Other than that children and homework is to be as independent as possible.
When you do your children’s homework for them the message is clear. You are teaching your child that you are better than them at it. It’s good intentions. But really independent learning is definitely the key.
When our children sit and absorb, they are learning and their brains are puzzling out the outcome. Who are we to interfere with the process?
I’m a big believer in this process. As a child I was left to independently learn and I believe that this has stood me in good stead in the bigger scheme of things. It’s not always just getting the answer right, we learn by the wrongs. When our children get some questions wrong with their homework. It doesn’t matter. It’s down to the teacher to sit and address how to teach it simpler so the child understands. The teacher has the chance to pick up the wrong answer but the fact is. The person making the effort and doing the homework is the child and not the parent. Our duty is to make sure they are sat on the chair to do it. The biggest way a person learns is without that interference and by gradually piecing things together. It’s a vital part of learning and one that we can actually be preventing our children from grasping. In the big wide world we all need to be able to puzzle things out without somebody ‘spoon feeding’ us.
Time and patience.
This weekend we followed our routine. It came to the dreaded homework.
She tried to get me to do her maths.
“Why don’t you just do the bits you can do first.” I said.
She tried her displacement activities.
She went to her brothers for help.
“You’ve had these sort of questions before. You can do it by yourself.” They told her.
Once she realised that we were not bailing her out. She got on with her homework independently and she finished the lot. I’ve had a look over it and it’s very good. It certainly isn’t above her and I’m thinking about the lovely reward she will feel from doing it herself. Plus the many independent skills from puzzling it herself. Meanwhile I finished my ironing.
Next Sunday, same process.
Do your children make up excuses for not doing their homework? What is the funniest excuse they’ve ever given you?