Is it time for a change?
If you dread homework time, you are not alone. Learning difficulties and homework battles go hand in hand. Stress, arguments, standoffs and general frustration play out in homes every school night all over the globe. For a very good reason. It’s that homework melds all of the difficulties and gaps in a child’s learning in one frustrating parcel:
- Reading comprehension
- Understanding the teacher in class
- Needing to focus
By the time a child sits down to confront his homework, he is already in a hole based on what has gone on during the school day. And then he needs to read with comprehension and write.
These homework battles can have a real impact on family life. It creates distance between parent and child and neither party is happy about homework. It casts a pall over the after school hours, which should be a happy time for child-parent bonding.
And yet, while there is mounting evidence that homework is not that helpful, and many top ranking countries in PISA international testing have little or no homework, the fact remains in the US, homework is a fixture of daily school life. And so it has to be managed.
Here’s why your child has likely had an exhausting day already.
Listening to the teacher for most children with reading or learning issues is no walk in the park. Forget understanding what the teacher is talking about, just making out the words and attaching meaning to them require her complete concentration. Some compare it to listening to sound through water. That gets exhausting very quickly.
Then there is the possible humiliation of having to read out loud. Or the anxiety of worrying about being picked. Not great for one’s confidence when you are one of the weakest readers in the class, and you find hard what others apparently find easy. It has to make you question if you’re smart.
Finally, there is the avoidance behavior she exercises all day, trying to avoid disappointing anyone – teachers, parents, peers — by keeping out of the mix, laying low.
Meanwhile, you have probably not spent the day lounging around, sipping ice tea. Furthermore, this is not what you signed up for, having to help a struggling learner get an education, reluctantly – to put it mildly!
And so parents bring a lot of love to the homework table, hopefully a fair amount of patience, but beyond that, they are winging it. They know intuitively that they should not do the homework for the child, although that would make things a lot easier!
Becoming a Capable & Confident Learner
So what to do? You don’t want homework to erode the relationship you have with your child. But you know that every day, the battle scars build and they are taking a toll.
There are lots of great websites like Empowering Parents with advice on managing homework battles. But that is a band aid approach, helping you manage the symptoms of the problem without tackling the underlying source of difficulty.
You could let the school know about the homework stress, and ask for less of it. Truth be told, they probably already have a fair idea of what is going on at home, and so have probably already reduced homework where they can.
And so that leaves helping your child become a capable and confident learner who can handle homework.
That requires addressing the underlying learning delays that cause homework stress. In most cases, unless you go the drug route, that implies a learning or reading intervention. Not in every case, and not always in the average 4-6 month intervention time frame. But certainly more often than not, these homework frustrations are avoidable or at the very least can be minimized with an appropriate learning intervention.
Address The Underlying Impediments
Then you ask, we barely have time to do the homework, let alone take on extra activities. Our response is that especially for children in elementary and middle school there is nothing more important than mastering reading and learning. For a while, homework can take second place, and if you ask the school, they will probably go along with that call.
Ask yourself honestly. Is this getting any easier? Is the homework stress worth it? Is it helping your child love learning? Is it making him or her a better learner?
The answer is almost certainly no.
And so until you do something to address the underlying impediments to learning, the changes will be imperceptible going forward. That means treating the underlying processing or reading delays by address underlying causes. Not managing symptoms, which is what homework management techniques do and what tutoring is all about.
The Gemm Learning reading intervention is 30 minutes a day 3-5 days a week for 4-6 months. It aims at all of the areas of difficulty described above — reading and comprehension, listening in class and attentiveness. And if you read our case studies and testimonials, you’ll see we have a healthy success rate, helping children become at first capable learners, and then confident learners.
Which is why a good number of the comments we get about changes in a child’s learning refer to a changed homework routine, far less stress – for child or parent. It’s a change that helps our parents recapture the joy of parenting and that sets their child on a path to learning independence.
To find out if we can help tell us about your child here.
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