I’m a mum to two daughters, now aged 15 and 22, so I’ve had my fair share of experience when it comes to homework.
I also have the benefit of being able to see, at 22, exactly what impact my approach to parenting has had. (Quite a scary thing at times.)5 things I won’t miss when my teenager leaves home
One thing I have been pleased to see is that my decision not to force my children to do their homework definitely hasn’t left them with a shoddy work ethic. If anything, the opposite is true, which is one of the reasons I took this approach in the first place.
It wasn’t just laziness, honestly. Although that probably came into it a teeny bit.
Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I actively discourage homework – I’m not trying to raise anarchists here.
Every evening I ask about homework, and make positive suggestions about why it might be a good idea to do it as well as it can be done. Ultimately though, I feel that it has to come from them – especially by the time they are in their mid to late teens.
Chiefly, it’s about ownership and responsibility.
What I don’t want to do is sit down every night and force them to do something against their will.
Not only will they feel less engaged as a result, but then they never get to experience the consequences of not doing it. I feel like they need to see this, to make them appreciate why it’s important.
Not doing homework for example might, in the short-term, lead to detention or a bit of public humiliation in class, but it will also have a long-term impact too.
If you get behind with homework, it can be difficult to keep up in class, and that’s a very stressful position to be in.
It also comes back to that much debated topic – the mental load.
By constantly reminding and nagging your children to do homework, you’re taking on more than your fair share of the mental load.
They need to learn that no one is going to remember things for them – if they want to be successful as an adult then they need to step up and take on that responsibility themselves.
I want them to understand that pretty much everything in life is a choice, but that every choice they make comes with consequences.
They are free to take whichever path they choose, but they must be prepared to deal with what happens as a result.
That’s what parenting is all about isn’t it?
We can’t force our children to do things we want them to do as they get older, we can only hope that we’ve equipped them with the skills and the confidence to make good choices.
Jo Middleton is the creator of the award-winning parenting and lifestyle blogSlummy Single Mummy.
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Homework can often feel like an overwhelming, never-ending pile of stress. Homework stress can cause frustration and anxiety and ultimately prevent you from achieving your best results.
However, this feeling of not being in control can be avoided by simply adjusting your study habits. Homework and study can actually be a rewarding, satisfying experience if done in an organised and efficient way. Here are some tips on how to achieve that.
1. Practise good time management
Time management is key to avoiding homework stress. Plotting out the time you need to complete your homework or assignment can quickly make what seems like an overwhelming task much less stressful to approach.
- Set aside a certain amount of time each day to work on your homework, and choose a time that sits you. You may prefer early in the morning before school, or maybe you’re fresher when you get home from school in the afternoon.
- Use a calendar or school planner to plot out your work. List important dates, when things are due and when you have exams. This will help you have a good visual of things you need to work towards.
- Allow enough time to complete your work. Making sure you give yourself enough time to complete your work is crucial in avoiding a meltdown. Be realistic. Estimate how long you think it will take each day to complete your homework, and allow plenty of time for bigger projects and assignments.
2. Ask questions
One of the biggest causes of homework stress is not understanding the question, or how to solve the problem at hand. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify what you need to do. Whether it be a question on how to solve a tricky trigonometry problem or how to structure your essay, no question is a silly question. Try asking your teachers, your parents, a friend or an online Subject Specialist for help.
3. Listen to your teacher and take notes
It sounds simple, but it’s something that many students struggle with. Pay attention and write down important terms and ideas in the classroom. You will find this helps organise your thoughts and remember key information, which will make homework time much more of a breeze.
4. Allow more time for areas you find difficult
Take a practice test or write a practice essay and focus on the areas you find the hardest. The more you practise, the less stressful it will be when the time comes to sit the exam or hand in your assignment.
5. Refresh your memory regularly
Every afternoon, or at least every couple of days, go over what you’ve learnt from previous lessons. If you find that you don’t have the basic knowledge to tackle more difficult subjects go over this more frequently - this will help you build up your confidence in those areas.
6. Get a good night’s sleep
It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to suffer from sleep deprivation when you are feeling stressed about homework. Research suggests that kids and teens need around 9-10 hours sleep a night. This will significantly help focus, memory, decision making and creativity, all of which are important inside and outside of the classroom.
7. Avoid procrastination
Procrastination could well be the biggest factor responsible for homework stress. You’d be surprised at how much time you can waste by putting off what you need to do until you’ve checked out your Facebook page or listened to your favourite song! Let these be rewards for once your work is actually done.
8. Have a healthy snack
There is a proven link between what we eat and how well our brain functions. Memory, learning ability and emotional states are affected by what we put into our bodies, and to perform our best we need a healthy diet. (Check out some delicious and healthy snack recipes here)
9. Remember to breathe
If you’re starting to feel anxious or overwhelmed by your work, take five deep breaths and give yourself a moment of calm. Deep breathing will help control your nervous system and encourage your body to relax, bringing you into a better state to concentrate on your study.
10. Give yourself some ‘me’ time
While it’s important that you manage your time and work efficiently, you are going to be much more productive if you are feeling fresh and have had some time to do things you enjoy doing. It might be going for a walk or a swim, hanging out with some friends on the weekend, or perhaps it’s playing sport? Whatever it may be, make sure you have that balance. A healthy, happy mind equals better study time.