Dilemma Emma advises a couple about homework over the holiday period

Dear Readers,

Well, I have had a little heap of emails arrive!  Thank you for your kind words and pleas for assorted help and there have been quite a few touching on the thorny homework subject, so here we go… it seems as prickly as a bunch of holly….I’m wasted, should be writing cracker jokes…

Dear Dilemma Emma,

My husband says he was made to do extra homework every day in his holidays and he is adamant that our children should. I never did anything in the holidays, school was not my best place and I never had any desire to do the homework. Luckily for me my parents let me off and as grandparents they support me in feeling it just can’t be necessary. Aren’t they doing enough at school? I’m the one left at home to try to get them to do it, when he just walks in later. It’s just starting to get a bit of a problem for us both, silly rows. One teacher I asked was no help. My friend read your brilliant stocking fillers and said, “email Dilemma Emma”! So hoping you can help? Thanks in advance of your reply,  Marni M.    W9 London

Dear Marni,

I would ask you to put aside your and your husband’s experience. It is almost immaterial what you both experienced; education has moved on and enormous progress has been made in looking at the psychology behind learning, your children will enter a workplace where the competition is fierce and they will be judged on their mindset, alongside facets of their character such as resilience, collaboration, self control, focus and empathy… words which were unlikely to even have been in your or my spelling tests.

Both secondary and primary education is following a national set of directives that are moving your children towards developing a strong mind set.  Currently, any teacher worth their salt, is instigating in their pupils resilience, compassion, empathy and collaboration.  The research behind all of this new movement in education is robust and I would suggest one would be foolhardy to turn away from it. So….putting this bluntly Marni, they need to do homework, with kindness and routine. They need to build a strong work ethic, an enquiring mind and a thirst for learning and you as their primary carer owe it to them to compassionately facilitate this.

What I do know is you both want the best for your children, which is why you are both starting to row.  You’re not so much cross with each other but frustrated that you each think you have the best plan. Talk to each other about this and you will see that unwittingly the cause of your row is actually what binds you.

In reality:

  • do short bursts 15/20 mins, 30 mins if aged over 13
  • do it regularly
  • read daily, read anything
  • teach them to complete a task
  • just wham it in each day and then grab your purse and zoom out for some fun.
  • try your hardest to teach them to not walk away from something, when you just don’t fancy it…
  • help them, don’t do it for them but do help them
  • A separate issue is if you strongly disagree with what they’ve been asked to do; then you must take that up with teacher or Head. Put your case forward clearly and justify; there is no case for, we couldn’t be bothered, we didn’t fancy it, we didn’t want to, we went to Sandy Balls.  There is a case for genuine and serious illness or emotional trauma, but that is where it ends. Do not place your child in an impossible position where he has not completed his homework because of your poor decision making.

If the work is taking too long, then time it and talk to the teacher.  This fact could be a strong indicator for an underlying learning difficulty which may not have been picked up.  Alternatively, ask the teacher for a time frame and stick to that time.  The teacher will then see that your child has only completed perhaps one question in the recommended time and again that will ring alarm bells. Likewise, pop the time on the corner of the work if it is of no challenge and completed within seconds, not minutes. The teacher needs to see that it was too easy and therefore of limited benefit.

Reading has to be done. It simply has to be done. There are no two ways about this. I am afraid you’re talking to a mother of a child who most probably would never have learnt to read, as his dyslexia was so severe but relentlessly, with kindness, compassion and routine we read, comics, menus, computer games, food packets and he now is at university.  Ergo, read.

Good luck; being a responsible adult with influence on any child is the most worrying and debilitating job we hold.

However, it is one of the most life enhancing and rewarding.

Happy days.

Dilemma Emma