Monday, February 20, 2012

Homework Hassles

Q. What about parents' frustration with kids educational challenges with homework? My husband gets frustrated with what we think is simple stuff---counting by 5s and 10s and addition and subtraction. Just wondering if you may have written something on PATIENCE. - Frustrated in Central NJ

Do you remember how and when you learned your multiplication tables? I do, and it wasn’t easy. In fact it was a little intimidating for me. My third grade math teacher made us each stand up and recite them to see if we knew them. I can remember how sick I felt inside when it was my turn. To be sure, I learned them, more out of fear of humiliation than anything else.

But I don’t remember how I learned to read. That came easier to me. There is no trauma associated with it. I just feel like I’ve always known how to read. But someone taught me – probably my first grade teacher, Mrs. Robinson at Mt. Vernon Elementary in St. Petersburg, FL.

When I had my own children, I had a different experience. First, my oldest son begged me to teach him his sounds so he could read when he was 4 – begged. I did and he went from there and began to read on his own before he hit kindergarten. Then I homeschooled our boys through elementary school and came up against a familiar wall.

My youngest son just had trouble memorizing his multiplication tables. I knew what that was like, but I started to get frustrated that it was taking him so long. We got to the end of third grade and he still couldn’t do it. For one brief moment I thought of making him stand up and recite them, but there is no humiliation factor in a classroom of one, and I quickly admonished myself for even thinking such a thing. Why would I want to put my son through what I went through?

Our own school experiences shape how we approach our children’s school experiences. If we were good at something, we expect our children to breeze through those same subjects. If we struggled with something, we feel prepared to help our kids as they struggle too. But what happens when there is a mismatch? What happens when you were good at something that is very difficult for your child?

We all have gifts and talents and part of our jobs as “the grown-ups” is to teach our children both appreciation and compassion for others. First, we need to model ourselves within our own families. Take time to appreciate your child’s gifts and talents, but then show compassion for where he may be lacking. Help him or her find a way around/over the obstacle he is facing in his schoolwork. If you find that you are not the right fit for working with him, let someone else do it.

Frustration only breeds frustration.

Hire a tutor, talk to the teacher about any insight she may have, and make sure your child has both the time and the place to do homework without being rushed or interrupted.

Children’s self esteem is tied to how well they think they are doing in school. Your attitude towards their achievement greatly affects their own.

In education and learning, the frustration level is a place where no learning happens. When you reach that place (either you or your child), it’s time to drop back to a place where they felt success and find a new way to proceed.

Success breeds success!