Page 1 of 4Is homework wreaking havoc in your home? If the answer is YES, then finding the real causes behind the homework problems, and taking steps to resolve them, will improve both school success and family harmony.
How do we know? Homework is the single biggest issue affecting home life, according to many of the parents who bring their children to us at STRONG Learning Centers®.
Here are the ten most common causes of homework problems, along with suggestions to help you resolve them.
1. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO DIFFICULT.
If the homework is continuously too difficult, with everything that entails, then a child will try to avoid it. Look into the cause. Begin by having a conversation with the teacher. If the problem is class-wide, hopefully the teacher will evaluate and adjust the nature of his or her homework assignments. If the problem is limited to your child, she may require additional help from the teacher after school, from you, from a sibling, from a teenager you hire, or from a tutor. If this fails to resolve the issue, then a reevaluation of the type of class, or course level, or teaching vs. learning style, or school may be in order.
On the other hand, the cause of the problem may be a disability: physical, learning and/or attentional. Your child may have difficulty in such areas as: hearing, seeing, reading, processing language, or writing, or she may have ADD or ADHD. If the problem is one of these, sometimes it is easy to resolve. For example, corrective glasses can easily resolve some seeing issues and behavioral therapy and/or possibly medication might help AD/HD, the newer term for the disorder. In many cases, consulting teachers, counselors, or specialists in the appropriate field, might be in order.
Note: If you suspect AD/HD, a valuable resource is CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder organization). For information on the learning disability (LD) issue in general, contact the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).
2. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO CONFUSING.
When children chronically complain that assignments or directions are confusing, they are likely to become frustrated and/or anxious, eventually avoiding such assignments. Parents usually respond to these children by asking, "Weren't you listening?" Or "Just read the directions!" The children were listening or reading, but they may not have been able to process the information.
In this case, the cause may be reading comprehension and/or language processing problems. You may need to seek the help of teachers or a learning specialist to help your child learn strategies she can use to overcome or compensate for her disability. For example, she may need to put the words into pictures or graphic organizers. Children who become confused due to problems with language processing, do better when they can see things visually.
And, regardless of who is working with them, be sure they remain actively involved. Children (and adults too) are notorious for shaking their heads "yes" when asked "Do you understand?" even when they don't understand. Sometimes they are just yessing you and sometimes they think they understand. However, when you ask them to explain or discuss what you were just talking about, they realize that they really don’t understand.
If neither of these areas are the cause of the problem, then you may need to investigate why your child continues to complain. If it turns out it is simply a ploy to get you to do the work with him, then you need to address the reason for that behavior. But wait – before you get annoyed, remember what it was like for you when you were a child. Homework isn't always fun, and sometimes it's nice to have a little company. Your child may simply want your company during homework time. Wow! How's that for the ultimate compliment?
3. THE HOMEWORK IS TOO LOW-QUALITY OR TOO BORING.
Sometimes homework assignments are low-quality boring busywork and children will avoid them simply because they don't want to do them. Unfortunately, one of life's little lessons that children need to learn is that sometimes we simply have to do boring things. If, however, every assignment appears to be dull, too easy, or too low-quality, you may need to talk to your child's teacher to determine the purpose of the assignments. Many teachers do not realize how some of the assignments are coming across to the children; chances are they will appreciate the feedback and adjust the work as appropriate.