Answers to Parents’ Questions about Homework
About this time of year, the amount of homework that schools assign starts to become pretty substantial. Furthermore, the homework becomes more and more dependent upon success at previous homework assignments. Therefore, for children who struggle with homework, the problems start to compound and become a major difficulty for the child, and the whole family (so much for quality family time together!). Below are answers to some of the most frequent and important questions I am asked regarding homework.
1. “We are having a real problem with our son’s homework. It’s a battle to get started; it’s a battle to keep him at it; and, quite frankly, it usually turns out ruining the whole family’s evening! Why do you think this is so hard?”
Ideally… and I do mean ideally, homework should be a time (and not too long a time) for a child to practice skills learned in the classroom, share with their parents what they are learning, show off their new abilities, and gain confidence in themselves. It can and should be a positive, affirming experience for all involved.
However, for many children and parents, it is quite often the opposite (if it gets completed at all). For them it can be an “evening killing”, stressful, conflict-filled prolonged period of frustration, failure, and blame. It is often a confidence shattering time for the child, which erodes the positive bond between parent and child (not to mention that between the parents), and is disrupting to the whole family dynamic.
Furthermore, the learning required to do the task in the first place may not have happened in the classroom. The same issue that is causing the problem at home may be short-circuiting the learning process at school, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
2. “Homework for my daughter is a nightmare. We push, we shove, we plead…nothing works. We’ve tried talking to the teacher, and still nothing is getting better. What can we do?”
At this point, you’ve probably done all that you can to correct for the problem at the school setting. When this scenario is present, there is a good chance that the underlying problem is ADD or ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). This is a relatively minor disorder, which, as we have just seen, can have far reaching, serious effects on a child, a parent, and a family. In addition to the very significant problems at home, just getting the assignment written down and the correct books in the book bag to go home may be a daunting task. Papers invariably get lost, either on the way home or going back to school, where they may or may not get turned in (this is particularly exasperating after all the work it took to get it done). If by some miracle, everything necessary to do the homework makes it home, the energy it takes to recall the instructions, understand the assignment, and complete the task may prove to be too much.
Many parents avoid considering or testing for this cause because they, understandably, fear the necessity of drugging their child. Fortunately, there is a highly successful alternative to this scenario. Neurofeedback is an effective, drug free, painless procedure in which the child learns to retrain the attention mechanisms of their brain, alleviating the condition. Once training is completed, no further treatment is necessary.