Taking the chore out of homework has so many benefits

I THINK it would be safe to say that most of the kids and teens in Ireland do not look forward to homework and that it is a source of stress for parents to ensure it is getting done each night, writes Alison Curtis.

I certainly know in my various parent WhatsApp groups something about homework comes up in our chats almost weekly. Tips on how to get them to do it; that kids are complaining about it; that some parents (as our kids are in first class) are skipping it; what time of day is best to get it done; is a cash reward a good idea? — and the list goes on.

In the past two years since my daughter started school I honestly look forward to that part of our daily routine. We get to sit in close together at our kitchen table and spend tech-free time as I watch in awe at how much she progresses each day.

In first class one of the big jumps was getting her own copy book to write down each day the homework she has to do that night, it has been great to see her take on that responsibility.

I love watching her as she races through it some days and then the other days having the chats about what it is she is learning. Her writing homework is particularly amusing as she tries to combine the daily four words into short stories and it is so encouraging to see her imagination on paper.

Now not every day is glorious and there has been pleading and shouting but for the most part she gets it done.

I found the trick was to allow at least half an hour of either TV, dancing, colouring, chatting and eating when she gets home and before we get started. 

Joan often arrives home, like so many kids, hungry and thirsty. They have had such busy days that they forget to eat and drink enough, so I definitely make sure I fuel her up before we sit down and and get to work.

I also fully appreciate two very important things; one is it is just her and I am not trying to get multiple homework done with many children. I know homework can be a struggle as it does require so much of the parent’s attention and guidance. A difficult thing if you have other children also in need of help.

I really appreciate I have a flexible working week so it means most days I am not coming in the door exhausted like so many Irish parents.

Another reason I like homework time is my memories of homework are really positive because my father was so involved in my education. He would do homework with my twin and I every night, he really pushed us to do creative and interesting science projects and loved writing stories with us.

Also homework time was probably one of the few times of day I had my dad to myself. It was the time of day the two of us really connected and we could work together and achieve something as one. 

He was the most kind, most patient and gentle man and he applied his temperament to the daily task of homework, which he would have to go over twice each day since my twin and I had to ‘work apart!’. He struck that perfect balance of encouraging and supporting us. 

I never felt I wasn’t doing well enough and always felt a sense of great accomplishment and pride when I finished.

We lost him when we were only 14 and to this day some of my fondest memories are of the kind things he said to me and the things we laughed at over the table while doing homework.

And I am thankful that so far my daughter loves this time with me and long my it continue.

I look forward to that part of our daily routine. We get to spend tech-free time as I watch in awe at how much my daughter progresses

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