This week we had a real crisis on our hands with a grandson in tears and parents completely ‘losing it’ over undone homework on a Sunday night! I was called in to have a chat with a very upset young man.
To sum up – too much homework: why did he have to do it all the time and especially on Sunday, one day before he was back at school again?
One of the main problems – the daily diary! Far from getting done on a daily basis, this (in his view) pointless activity all happened late Sunday afternoon when he couldn’t think or care about a single thing to write.
Experience has taught me that it is a complete waste of time to argue with or try to convince a very fed-up child that they could actually enjoy a task they currently hate. So I just listened and quickly realised that the idea of keeping a journal was not something to which he was likely to respond.
So I changed the game. I abandoned the pointless game of ‘having fun writing a daily diary’ and introduced the time-honoured game, known to all athletes, of ‘ race against the clock’!
“I bet,” I suggested, ” that if you set the kitchen timer for five minutes and started to write, you would have written your daily diary entry by the time the bell went. Imagine that! Five minutes! Done! Over! Record-breaking diary writing!”
I could see a tiny gleam of interest in his eyes. He thought for a minute and then, “yes,” he admitted cautiously, ” that might work. Do you think I could do it in just five minutes?” I assured him that he would be surprised at how much he could produce in just that short a time.
Next day he bounced in and announced, “That worked really well! I set the timer and I wrote more than a third of a page! It was easy!” In other words, he had written more than ever before! So far, he has managed every day (using the timer on his computer) and his weekend is gloriously free of the dreaded diary. . . which has actually become something verging on fun. Something he controls – not just inflicted upon him by parents and teachers.
You can apply this in many ways. Attention wandering and homework taking forever? How about focusing on beating the clock? Alternatively allow the child to decide for themselves: ten minutes work, then ten minutes break, then ten minutes work again. Or bets can be taken on learning something before the bell rings! Any variation on this is more enjoyable to a homework-shy child than the dreaded task itself. Even something already fun, like one of our quizzes, can be enhanced by a race!
To add to the fun – allow your child to choose a timer online or in the shops – there are some really amusing designs available on ebay for example – just search Novelty Timers! I even found R2-D2!
For more useful parenting information pay a visit to the Education Quizzes Knowledge Bank. It’s packed full of articles which aim to answer the questions asked by parents. They could be on any aspect of education, such as home schooling or special needs education, or they could be on some of the issues concerning parents, like cyberbullying or substance abuse. It’s a valuable resource for any parent!
Guest Blog by Cathy Bird
Since retiring from full-time teaching Art and English and her post as Assistant Head and Sixth Form Tutor, Cathy Bird has concentrated on her painting and now runs art courses and sessions at her own studios in Kent. She also tutors students at all levels in Literacy, Comprehension and Essay-writing.
really good idea i will definitely be trying this; wish we still lived in u.k. so you could help my son who is currently doing year nine exams!