By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
As an experienced educator, I’ve come to associate a “feel” with each month of the school year. Now that I’m an entrepreneur and parent, I’m seeing these “feels” from a new angle. So, what “feel” does October have when it comes to parenting? October brings new activity schedules, tightening our time and access to daylight. The sheen begins to fade from new notebooks, summer clothes are being replaced by bulkier sweaters, new friends emerge, old patterns emerge, and homework becomes a living entity – it occupies space, extracts, and renews energy, and demands attention.
This month, I’d like to share three suggestions to reduce the stress around homework. First, consider the why. Think of homework as practice. Practice is an essential part of the learning process. When it comes to what children learn in school, practice is the part that parents are empowered to influence and it’s an important step in your child becoming competent in school. Think of a basketball player learning how to dribble or a piano player learning their scales. The basic skills and thinking patterns that children learn require repetition to master. That said, if you feel that homework is repeatedly too difficult for your child or taking exceptionally long to complete on a regular basis, reach out to your child’s teacher for support. Proactive, respectful communication between home and school can make a big difference in your child’s education.
Second, consider the when. Each child is different. If homework is going well, if your child has high academic self-esteem and if you aren’t worried about their school success, then you’re cooking with gas! However, if there is repeated stress around homework, then consider when homework is happening. Delaying homework makes it harder. Try to imagine this scenario: your child comes through the door from school or activities, puts their bag in the area where homework is done, gets a snack, changes clothes, and then sits down to start their work. When they are done, they head outside with their basketball or flick on the tv to chill. They have completed their practice and the rest of the day is theirs.
Third, consider the how. Fear of starting is a pretty common feeling, not just in children. “This is going to take forever,” might be an obstacle to a confident start. A remedy might live in the making of a list. Keep a small whiteboard and marker in your child’s homework station. Help your child make a very simple list of what needs to be done. Once the list is made, ask your child to number the items in the order they wish to complete their work. Finally, help them estimate how long each item will take. This is a great skill that allows kids to see that tasks have a beginning and end. Drinking water and short bursts of movement (like doing 10 jumping jacks between items on the list) circulate oxygen which helps the brain. Act as a coach would, to support your child’s work time and then step back as they empower themselves.
Christina Forgeron is a passionate educator, brave entrepreneur and imperfect mother who runs Bolster Family Educational Support out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Christina mission is to “bolster” parents who value education and want their children to be competent, confident, and compassionate students and citizens. She does this through coaching services and through her online community, BolsterHub, where parents are supported by each other as well as educational experts.
For more information, reach out to Christina:
email@example.com or visit her website at bolsterfamilies.com