It’s that time of year again. Time to put up the bathing suites and get out the book bags. School is in session!
For many parents this time can be a time of relief as they get their kids back into school and back on a routine. For other parents, this time can be stressful as they hustle to get everything ready for their kids to go back to school. Then there are other parents whose anxiety starts to build and build as school approaches and they wonder if the homework battle will be as bad this year as it was the year before.
Homework can become such a source of contention between kids and their parents. How sad it is for many kids that the learning process can be such drudgery rather than eager anticipation and a feeling of excitement to learn. But to be honest, even many adults don’t look forward to learning things that they have to learn. They would much rather spend their time learning about things that they are interested in learning. Kids are no different.
I know that in life we don’t always get what we want and there are times when we are going to have to do things that we don’t like to do. In fact, that is part of being a responsible adult. Just think of waking up in the middle of the night to clean up throw up from a sick kid. Or think of paying taxes. It’s debatable which one is worse. Needless to say, it is important that we learn to do things that are necessary, even if we don’t necessarily want to do them.
Applying this to homework. Kids may not be interested in some of the things that they are learning. In fact they may say that they will never use this information again in their lifetime. In spite of our efforts to convince them otherwise, they might be right. So rather than focus on the moral reasoning as to why homework is important, parents can focus on the importance of developing the life skills that it takes to complete their home work.
On the Love and Logic CD Winning the Homework Battle, Jim Fay talks about research that went in to finding out about the histories of really successful people. As they went back and took a look at the grades that they got in school, the researchers found no correlation between grades that they received as children and the success that these individuals achieved later on in life. Rather the researchers found that there was a correlation with their achievements in extra-curricular activities and their later on success in life.
As I have met with several successful people in life, I too have found that similar pattern. But I have also found another thing that successful people have in common. The successful people that I know all posses the following 3 qualities:
- They know how to problem solve
- They know how to set and reach goals
- They know how to work hard
As we start a new school year with our kids, may I suggest something untraditional. May I suggest that instead of focusing on the importance of homework and grades, that parents rather focus on helping our kids develop the abilities to problem solve, set and reach their goals, and to work hard. I realize that this suggestion may be difficult for many parents and may cause parental anxiety in the short term. However, the long term benefits of having developed these skills can be applied to several areas of their lives as they become successful adults.
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Therapy Group.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, and Tempe, Arizona.