We lead very busy lives and we too easily forget how hard it was for us to focus on homework when we were in school. Now that we have jobs to do, food to buy and cook and other errands to run, even I sometimes think that it would be a welcome change to have to sit down and quietly read and write with no distractions. But, in case you don't remember -- homework is pretty much every child's least favorite thing to do. In the age of Netflix, Snapchat and wifi, the distractions are almost endless. It can sometimes almost be too hard to even keep up with all the new tech advances our kids are using, so how can we make sure that those advances take a backseat to our children's education? Here are some ideas:
Don't fight the tech devices. There's no point in stopping the inevitable reality that young people are going to focus on their phones and tablets instead of other things at times. Your best bet is to embrace it, actually: the tech sector continues to be the most lucrative and fast-growing industries and that's unlikely to change fast. There are ways to use technology to help your kid do homework. Ask your teacher and school staff what apps and web sites they're using to teach lessons and supplement them with at-home activities as well.
If you build it, they will come. Even though technology has changed, the basics haven't. If you want to read, write and think properly, you need to have peace and quiet and the ability to focus, right? Well, your kids are just the same. Try and find a space in your home to enable the young people in your life to do work away from the den of televisions, streaming radio or other distractions of every day life. Let me be clear: this shouldn't be a prison. I feel like I'm my most productive working alone in an office or at a busy café with my headphones on. Being able to move focus away from my work and get lost in other realities helps my creativity flow. There's no reason to put your child in a dark closet to do their homework. The best thing is ask your child what would make them most comfortable and to accommodate those needs. Placing them in isolation can often have an adverse effect and doesn't always equal being more productive,
Get engaged. I feel like this is always a big part of my advice for parents on just about everything. How can you make sure your child is being successful if you have no idea what they're doing? How can you be sure they're doing it right if you don't know what is the correct answer? What kind of incentive do they need? You should be in touch with your student's teacher, have a sense of where the lessons are going, what kinds of assignments are being given and what success looks like in the classroom. Knowing all of that is key to your child's success, especially when matched with some encouraging praise and helpful tips on how they can keep going. Having a reward structure might not hurt as well -- thinking about how your child is best motivated to other things and employing those tactics here -- within reason -- isn't a bad idea.
And if by chance you're having trouble solving that algebra equation or diagraming a sentence, don't fear, you are not alone. Use the school staff and other parents and friends as your support in determining the best way to help with homework and support your child even when you're not clear on the work. Better to seek help than do nothing,
We all know that homework isn't exactly the most entertaining way anyone spends their time. And sometimes we can't help but feel that since we left school, we're done with homework forever. But the circle of life plays out in all times and it's up to us to make sure that we pass on the lessons we've picked up and that while homework might seem dull, it's how we build skills, learn real lessons and get on the road to greatness. That greatness is on the inside, it's up to us as adults to enable the young people to bring it out. A key ingredient to achieving greatness is being a lifelong learning.