ABC’s of Homework

By Jim Burns – President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family Center Azusa Pacific University

For many families, homework is the number one source of conflict between parents and their kids. When kids won’t do their homework or the quality of work is poor, the sparks begin to fly.

I interviewed the acclaimed parenting expert, author and columnist, John Rosemond, about what he believes parents should do regarding the issue of homework, and he outlined his ABC’s:

A. All By Myself. Children ought to do their homework in a private, personal area — not a high-traffic or family area like the kitchen. Insisting on a private area for homework tells your children that homework is their responsibility. As we help our kids move from dependence on us to becoming independent — a private area allows them to function and complete tasks by themselves.

B. Back Off. Backing off means refusing to give children help with homework unless absolutely necessary. Although this is often difficult for parents, they need to realize that when children say, “I need help,” it doesn’t actually mean they do. According to Rosemond, when kids ask for help, about 80% of the time they are looking for mom or dad to solve a problem or bail them out of a situation that has frustrated them. When parents jump in to fix or bail out, they confirm for their children that they indeed were unable to solve the problem themselves. Backing off while supporting and encouraging your kids is the way to go. Even if kids fail, they will learn important life lessons.

C. Call It Quits. Rosemond suggests that parents set a time deadline when homework must be completed for the day, whether or not all assignments have been finished. When deadlines are set and kept, kids will begin to learn to manage their time more effectively.

These ABC’s are nothing more than the approach to homework that most parents used 50 years ago. They might go against some popular thinking today, but they emphasize the development of self-discipline, responsibility, and the resourcefulness kids will need to become self-reliant and functioning adults.

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