Tips for Parents
Dr. Mona Youssri
Child Psychiatrist, Family counselor, CLC Founder & CEO
The traditional scene in most Egyptian homes is the daily quarrel and nagging about completing the child’s homework however boring or tiresome it may be. Mothers complain all the time about how they spend hours of their precious lifetime with their children to reinforce them to complete their assignments. The mothers’ sacrifice could reach the extent of not going out nor doing any personal requirement just to remain seated beside the child,
so that she could shout or reprimand,if he just thinks of getting up from his specified homework prison spot.. The problem is that in addition to the homework being boring and sometimes useless, the mothers over stress about it in such a negative way to the degree that, instead of this time being a positive bonding time between parent and child, on the contrary it has the most repulsive and extremely negative effect on the parent-child relationship as well as on the child’s passion for learning.
So how do you as a parent ensure you don’t fall into this tornado of Homework disaster?
1. Early Literacy (Nursery Stage); make sure you choose the right nursery for your child, which provides a well balanced reading program that reinforces early literacy. But also make sure that it’s a well achieving program that doesn’t force children into skills that are above their developmental level. When the child is lovingly attached to reading at a very young age, it becomes an inbuilt passion and a very essential skill for his later formal school life. And if a child goes into school a strong reader, this ensures his school achievements because simply everything goes easily and smoothly without difficulties.
An important precipitating factor of early literacy success, is encouraging pretend play. So, make sure your child’s nursery provides ample periods for unstructured play.
2. Kindergarten Stage; if your child is past the nursery crucial phase, make sure that the school you choose adopts a good phonetically based and leveled reading program that ensures that every child is taken individually to be assessed for his or her own pace.
Also make sure that your child’s first experience with learning and home assignments is a pleasant one. If you frown and shout for your child to do the homework, a very negative impression of learning will be printed in your child’s mind and heart for a long time and maybe forever.
That’s why when you say to your child “ Do you have homework?” you should put on the facial expression of a fun activity like playing together or having ice cream J
Homework time should be fun for as long as you can convince your child it is fun, which is when he is old enough to unfortunately learn from his peers that it’s a problem for them.
3. Elementary Stage; This is the time when you make sure your help is not causing your child to be dependent on you. This is the stage when your child will learn to be responsible for his own actions and bear with its consequences. So, it is not at all advisable to correct your child’s homework so that he gets a full mark. This action will also mislead the teacher into a false assessment of the level of the child, which confuses the whole plan of teaching within the child’s developmental level.
Believe me it is much better for your child to lose a few marks at this early stage than later when he refuses your help or rejects it.
At this age you also focus on the ‘love of learning’ so, even if your child’s school is not teaching through real life activities and projects, then you should adopt this strategy at home. For example, inventing a game, song or activity for a boring lesson or going for a real life trip that is relevant to implement this harsh lesson.
If you are going to be occasionally beside your child for coaching and skills acquiring, then make sure it’s a lovable charming and intimate time, with hugs, kisses, hair patting and emotional support. These emotions will be automatically interpreted as a favorable experience of this homework time, which he will grow to love by association without knowing why.
When you praise your child for working, do it sincerely and using descriptive sentences like “I love how you write neatly” not just “Good job”!
4. Middle school stage; This is when you model for your child your own work efforts. Be careful if you daily complain of working, you can never expect your child to enjoy his own work.
By this age your child should be completely independent, meaning you are free as a parent to go out or watch TV even if your child has an exam the next day. And this level of independence could be reached as early as the previous elementary stage if you start as early as the nursery stage.
Avoid comparing your child with his peers or any of his colleagues; this totally reverses your child’s passion for achievement. And even if your child is tempted to make you happy and does work hard just to please you, it will cause a very serious problem of always feeling “not enough” and down goes his self-confidence. This may also lead to your child thinking he was working for you and not for himself, which leads to loss of enthusiasm for achievement.
5. High school Stage; of course at this age your child is another adult at home so your only involvement will be according to his request. Like for example asking you to listen to his presentation rehearsal or give your opinion on something he made.
All through the previous stages, it is NEVER appropriate to; blame, shame or negatively label a child. Physical and verbal abuse is also out of the question if you want to ensure your child’s physical, emotional and psychological well- being.
It is easily and enjoyably possible for your child to be an independent self-motivated learner only if you do your homework as a parent.