You’ve got through the day, picked up the kids, put away the groceries, thought about dinner, gathered up the messy lunchboxes with crusts and yogurt smears in order to restore and refill them for tomorrow.  Finally, it’s time for a sit down and that pesky word pops up…. Homework.

Now let me tell you, no one actually LIKES homework.  As a teacher I dreaded preparing it and I resented marking it.  I hated following up on it and keeping a record of who’s done it and who hasn’t.  I hated the shaming of kids who didn’t bring it back, because they had after school activities, or were staying with grandma, or mum had a headache and couldn’t help.

And now I AM a mother of school aged children I hate it even more!  Where does that time go between picking up kids, feeding them, bathing them and putting them to bed?  Suddenly we have to pry open that small time frame and squeeze in skip counting and sight words?

So why do we do it?  I guess, by ensuring our kids complete their homework we are modelling to them that ‘sometimes in life we’ve got to do things we don’t feel like’. We all have responsibilities, and in this case it’s our commitment to completing home tasks.

All going well, this modelling allows for an acceptance by the child that this is one of those things that’s just got to be done.

Except, for Child 1 in my house, all is not usually going well when it comes to homework.

Even having the option to complete it all in one night and have the rest of the week off, Master 7 is thoroughly disgusted at the idea of giving up his precious time for such activities.  I am met with groans of complaint, huffing and puffing when things aren’t simple for him and an ‘I’ll do the bare minimum’ attitude.
Am I alone?  I’m guessing not!  But, there is a way.

Children like to feel as though they have power over a situation.  We can give them that power by offering them a choice.  This is not the kind of choice where ‘you will do it now or you will go to your room’.  This is a choice that engages cooperation and arrives at the desired destination regardless of which path is chosen.

Would you like to read first, or do your spelling?

Would you like to do your homework before or after dinner?

Would you like to write your spelling words in a green pencil or a red pencil?

We actually don’t care if they read first, do homework before dinner or use a green pencil – we just care that the homework gets done!  By giving children the power to make choices they are more likely to participate.  And if not, remind them of their choice.  “You chose to do your homework before dinner, and it’s almost ready”.

I still don’t like homework.  I still find it a drain on family time (don’t get me started).  But it makes life a little easier if we can get through it without a fight.