I know you’re feeling it – that little twinge that is starting to form with the end of summer and the start of the school year.
You’ve had a bit of a welcomed respite from some of the school anxiety and worries. You know, the stream of stuff running through Worry Brain starts ramping up. Things like, “Is the 504 really enough? “Is he getting what he needs?” “How come no one from the school is calling me back?” “We’ve got to get him organized, somehow.” “Do I need an attorney?” “Should I put him on a gluten free, ADD diet?”
On and on it goes.
It’s also the time of year where all kids are promising that they will put the crimes and misdemeanors of the previous year behind them and march forward into the school year ready to tackle the challenges of the new grade. (Good luck with that.)
I know you will be seeing articles on, “Best Tips to Have a Great School Year,” or “10 Ways to Help Your Child Get Straight A’s” in all of the magazines and on-line sites, but they are of the usual vanilla variety (“Set aside a quiet space for homework.”).
So, with that in mind here are a few guidelines that you probably will not be seeing:
- Breathe deep a lot – calm it down – meditate. Face it, homework makes you crazy. This year try not to bite on the hook. In many ways, you’re going off the rails about homework is more entertaining for your child than doing the dreadful worksheets. Try not to give it to him. If you find yourself losing it, do something else – wash your face in cold water, go outside and walk around the house a few times, those sorts of things.
- Ask yourself, “Is the work in the kid’s zone of competence?” If it is not, which is often the case with kids who have learning problems, then you need to be more, rather than less supportive during the homework hour (or four). After a while, if the homework is truly too much for your child to legitimately handle, the teacher should be informed that the work is simply too difficult.
- If the answer to #2 is yes, then it’s the child’s problem. You need to turn down the “Parent Over Investment Dial (POID).” Repeat after me the following mantra to say to your child, “You’re a big boy (or girl). You can manage your homework. If you choose not to, that’s your choice, but I will have to write a note to your teacher telling her what you chose.”
Remember, this is only in the case where the work is in the child’s zone of competence.
- Stop Badgering. Pecking, badgering, cajoling, nagging, yelling, generally do not work. Focus on the mantra in #3. Remember, calm it down. If the child chooses not to do the work, don’t get caught up in it. Put the problem where it belongs – on the child.
- Link “give and you get” messages. Modern kids are on a pretty nice one-way street. It’s the, “Get and don’t give street.” I bet you can list plenty of electronic whatevers that he/she has and takes for granted. “I breathe and therefore I have access to an iPad,” is pretty much the kid’s view. I’m not big on reactive punishments, but a well-delivered message linking up the child’s part in the equation may help it become more a part of a two-way street.
Pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and remember…next summer’s not all that far off.