The new school year promises a fresh new start. But children who struggle with schoolwork may be feeling overwhelmed instead.
As each school year passes, parents become aware of their children’s strengths and weaknesses, and most often we focus on their weaknesses. While our intentions are to help them, we need to keep in mind that their emotional state also needs care.
My son had problems with certain subjects and, once we found out about them, that’s all we talked about. I felt pressured to get him through it and he felt pressured to perform. The reality was that he wasn’t going to excel in all subjects, and I needed to be OK with that.
I am not at all suggesting that we accept it if our children don’t try. But if they are doing their best, then learn to encourage their efforts and not focus on the grade. I do believe that keeping your relationship connected is far more important.
Make sure your child has time when they first come home to unwind. Try to talk about something other than schoolwork. If you can’t find something else to talk about, then this should be a good indicator that you need to know more about your child and their interests.
Find time to talk about what your expectations are with homework and the assignments that are due. Understand your child’s learning style and set the atmosphere to support it. Your learning style may be completely different than your child’s, so take the time to find out what works.
My husband can only concentrate when the room is absolutely silent whereas I would go crazy unless there was music on. Let your children decide how they want to approach homework and put it to the test.
My daughter, for example, wanted to get her homework done as soon as she got home, while my son wanted to watch TV first or take a nap before he tackled homework. This worked fine so long as it didn’t interfere with bedtime and the work was completed correctly.
Be sure to stay on top of whatever system your school uses to provide homework information. Make a deal that if their system doesn’t work, you get to implement yours, keeping in mind their learning style.
Dr. Mom is a Peninsula mother who works in San Bruno. She has two grown children, has years of parenting experience and spends her time working with families to develop healthy relationships.