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Homework Hassle

October 01, 2014
By Laura Eisenga

Twelve year-old girl, “Mom, can I ride my bike?”
Mom, “Is your homework done?”

Sixteen year-old boy, “Dad, can I go see a movie with my friends?”
Dad, “Is your homework done?”

Do these conversations sound familiar?

Now that your student is in 5th grade and higher, there are more homework responsibilities including math questions, writing assignments and science projects. Just take a look at the bug collections that are sitting in our hallways now! They’re impressive and obviously took a lot of time.

Best-selling author, Cynthia Tobias, visited our school last spring, speaking at the SCS Foundation Annual Dinner and putting on a seminar for our teachers and parents about motivating students. Recently, Cynthia sent me a copy of her newly-published book, “Middle School: The Inside Story.”*

In Chapter 14, Cynthia talks about how to keep kids motivated to do their homework. “One of the most common areas that begs for accountability is that of homework – doing it, keeping track of it, and turning it in on time,” she writes. “You can bug your kids about it, dog their footsteps until they do it, and hover over them until it gets delivered to school. Or you can teach them to motivate themselves to get it done.”

Her advice for motivating your middle schooler to do his/her homework is letting them figure out what works best for them. Some may need a quiet, clean table to work on their assignments. Some may rather sit on the couch with the TV on. Even if you’re skeptical on their tactics, let them try. After an allotted time period, check their work. If the work is done well, you congratulate them and let them continue. If not, they need to prove it to you another way.

Cynthia is sure to stress the importance of doing the homework, not giving your child an excuse to turn in incomplete assignments. “We tell them what needs to be done, and we give them a chance to prove that doing it their way will work,” she writes.

Some additional strategy questions found in the book for helping your child include:

  • What grade do you want to earn?
  • What do you think it would take to get that grade?
  • Would you like any help?
  • How will I know your homework is being done?
  • How do you want to be reminded?

Her final piece of advice: “Keep in mind that your middle schooler is the one who knows the teacher and the expectations. You may think he should get A’s in history, but he may feel a B is the best he can do.”

At Sunnyside Christian School, we do our best to keep our parents informed of homework assignments and grades. Progress reports will go home tomorrow, and parents of 5th graders and older can check grades online by clicking this link for 5-8 and this link for 9-12. 

*You can order a copy of Cynthia Tobias' book, "Middle School: The Inside Story," by clicking this link