Students! If you are responsible, read my advice regarding homework. Then show it to your parents.

School is starting, and with it comes some of my favorite dialogue:
“Is your homework done?”
“I don’t have any homework.”
“Okay, it’s been two weeks, and I haven’t seen you doing any homework. What’s up with that?”
“I don’t have any, I finished it all at school. It’s just a pile of busy work anyway, and besides, as long as I pass, what’s the big deal?”

From here the conversation can take several twists. If you are the type of parent who doesn’t really see the value in traditional school, you will agree.
“Sure, passing is all we are looking for. Good job.”

If you are an authoritarian parent, whose requests will be honored, no matter what, you will start gathering data and setting up homework schedules. You will figure out what is late, or missing, and legislate just exactly how this job of going to school and doing homework will be done. You will demand “A’s” or else.

And if you are a Laissez-faire parent, you are probably more tolerant, and accommodating. You believe in minimal intervention, and may not have even asked the homework question in the first place.

What is correct? How much intervention IS needed when it comes to homework?

According to Michael Bradley, author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy, “Long term, high-level academic achievement is a marathon run, not a sprint. It is an event best mastered by kids who possess qualities like self-awareness, emotional resilience, positive outlook, persistence, and self-directedness. In other words, it’s a game for people who have consolidated their identities. Nothing is wrong with demanding academic excellence as long as you don’t get the grades and lose the kid.”

Helping form identity requires a middle of the road approach when it comes to homework. Attending school is important. It is the “job” that children encounter at this time in their lives, which means, he must go to “work” and do a good job, (pass), but just exactly how good a job will ultimately be up to him. Hopefully, parents will instill a love of learning at this time, and that involves more than using our power to get good grades.

Children like to feel supported, and autonomous at the same time. Help set up a place to study; stay interested, but not unrealistically demanding; and encourage any sparks of enthusiasm that may creep in to your landscape. He will be more proud of his grades if he is the one who chooses to earn them.

Before I leave this topic, let me just mention, that it is critical for your child to go to school. If your child absolutely refuses to attend, start by discussing what the problems might be, then negotiating with her if necessary. If she still declines to go, seek professional help. The more she misses, the harder it is to help her return. Actually going to school should not be negotiated.

Joe Theismann said, “I could not go to football practice until my homework was done. It taught me priorities.” Please notice that he was the one to choose. Hopefully your child will have the same options. Abraham Lincoln summed up my point nicely when he said,

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

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