Some parents love the fall when the kids “finally” go back to school and others dread fall because the kids go back to school and the homework wars begin. I’ve seen the homework wars, and I have to tell you, I want no part of it. It is ugly, mean and exhausting. Yes, I have kids, well actually grown-ups, but I didn’t have homework wars in my house. I know you are saying, “of course, you’re the perfect parent” in a condescending tone. But actually I wasn’t a perfect parent in any shape or form, but I didn’t have homework wars, because I grew up with a teacher for a father. The rule was that after a snack, the first thing my sisters and I were to do was our homework. If we had time afterward to play, then we could. Of course, that was when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had to change out of my school clothes into my play clothes after school.
Life seems so much more stressful now for families. Parents and kids are so over-scheduled, running from this lesson to that one, to this sport then home only to eat a fast food dinner and begin homework at 8:30 PM, then try to be in bed by 9:00. No wonder there are fights over homework. I have a few suggestions that will shut down the homework wars and make life easier for parents and kids alike. 1) Do what my parents did. After school, the kids get half an hour to relax and have a snack, then they do their homework before anything else. Set up a homework area for each child in a quiet area, on a desk where all essentials are gathered so they don’t have to get up to find the materials they need. The kitchen table really isn’t a good place because there are usually to many distracting things going on in the “hub of the home.” Make the rule that once homework is finished, they can do their other activities, but not until ALL homework is done. Then stick to it. You should also consider limiting TV viewing during the school week. 2) Your child’s school work belongs to them. Their assignments, due dates etc., belong squarely on their shoulders, not yours. Your job is to teach them how to get organized, check in often in the beginning, then back off slowly until they are able to handle it on their own (around mid-year Kindergarten). Be available if and when they need help. If you’re hovering and making their responsibilities yours, you need to get a hobby, friends a life or a parent coach. 3) Schedule your kids for no more than one activity and one religious activity per week. They need time to unwind from their stressful “job” the same way you do. Learning to be by themselves and taking initiative is very important and sorely lacking in today’s young people. 4) This is extremely important. Eat at least one meal together as a family, all together. Talk about what is going on in each others lives, the good, bad and awesome. This is where family values are passed on. Study after study shows how important eating one meal together is to children in terms of finishing high school and college, preventing teen pregnancy, keeping kids off of drugs, out of gangs, and on and on.
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