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How to Beat the Homework Blues
Welcome to Time Out, the place parents go for witty insight, tongue-in-cheek advice, and calming reassurance from a seasoned parenting veteran who believes laughing together beats sobbing alone when it comes to crayons in the dryer and other hazards of childhood.
Dear Time Out,
What can I do to make homework time for my daughter more pleasant and educational and less: "I-don't-get-this-why-are-you-so-mean-I-hate-you-and-I'll-never-use-multiplication-anyway-stomp-stomp-stomp-door slam-sob"?
Subtraction-less in Seattle
Oh, I feel your pain, Subtraction-less. There's nothing quite like the weary, frustrated rantings of kid gone off the homework rails.
First, try to isolate exactly what IS the underlying problem. Depending on the child, this could be easy or it could require years of therapy. When my youngest freaked out doing homework, in less than four minutes I learned he was being teased at school. On the flip side, I've been working on it for seven years and still can't pinpoint what it is that keeps his older brother from turning in homework on time.
Second, look for a fun way to help explain or reinforce the subject matter covered in the homework.
- School House Rock covers the basics on nearly every subject (and is how I learned how the electoral college worked, having been too busy in high school staring at boys to understand it at that time) and is available on DVD.
- Review quizzes and spelling words using a game show format complete with buzzer noise for incorrect answers.
- Change song lyrics to fit the material that need to be learned.
- Using scatological humor to your advantage. Oh sure, I could have had my seven year old stare at flash cards to memorize his sight words, but holding them up as I made up a story about a dog befouling a rug (HOW is it possible this dog manage to pee on the rug again? WERE you in the room when THIS happened? ALL I wanted was a puppy, not A LOT of puddles on my rug! WHAT are we going to do about THIS? WHO is going to clean up this mess?! It's LIKE the dog waits until no one is looking WHEN he unloads!) made the process a lot easier and more giggle-filled for everyone involved.
Finally, take a break. Between trying not to draw unwanted attention to themselves, scoping out the opposite sex, keeping abreast of current friendship conditions, learning to say no to drugs, yes to the six pillars of character, reading, writing, arithmetic, science, social studies, music, gym, art, and the emotion landmine known as the lunchroom, it's no wonder kids tend to fall apart when back in the safety of their home. Take a well-deserved chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate snack break before hitting the books and try again.
If all else fails, enlist/hire/kidnap a tutor. Sometimes the best way to help your child with math (or other subjects) is to simply remove yourself from the equation and that's totally okay. It takes a village and you taught them how to walk, talk and use the potty for crying out loud!
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