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Ridding the House of the Homework Hassles
       "This year is going to be different.  We will not fight about homework.
We'll schedule study times and stick to it."  Tim and Julie were sure they could make changes this year.   But they wanted some guidance to make these changes really work for them and their kids, Josh, heading into high school and Melissa, a seventh grader.  For all parents who have made those resolves, here are a few guidelines to
help make it work this year. 
       1.  Set up specific homework times.  Most families can't have the exact same study times every day.  Go through each day of the week and determine when study time will be for each day.  Discuss with your student when a good time would be for each day and write down the agreed-upon times.  Melissa takes dance classes several days each week and is in choir; Josh is trying out for football and was working towards becoming an Eagle Scout.   Working around busy schedules isn't easy.  Sometimes hard choices have to be made.  If it turns out that your students don't have time enough to study, they may need to make some hard choices.  Making sure they have efficient study skills and use them will be key in staying involved in the activities they choose.
       2.  Set up a specific homework place.  Some students need someone else there to stay focused.  Others can't concentrate when anyone else is around.  Try out a few places to see what works best.  A word of warning:  NO TV, phone or radio.   To Josh's cry, "I study better when the TV is on!"  I would reply, "Most students take five times longer to complete their work when the TV is on and make 20% more errors.  Do you have that kind of time to waste?"  Music works for some students, but the catch is NO WORDS!
       3.  Have supplies ready and available.  Josh and Melissa study in different places.  Josh takes up the family study and Melissa works in her bedroom where she has a small desk.  They each put together a homework box that comes out at homework times.  It's supplied with a dictionary and thesaurus, pencils, pens, colored pencils, markers, calculator, and paper.  Be sure your kids have the supplies they need on hand. 
       4.  Nothing ruins a parent-child relationship faster than control battles.  You know the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink?"  The same is true for kids and homework.  Tim tended to get really frustrated with the kids about homework.  He felt like he was always yelling at them to get it done.  My advice?  Require that time be spent on homework but give the choice to do the homework or to think about doing it. Many students don't like to be told what to do.  This gives them an option.  Sometimes it takes feeling the pain of their choices before kids make good ones! 
       5.  Be sure the skills are there.  Homework doesn't have to be a frustrating battle for anyone.   Josh seemed to have pretty good study skills, but his idea of getting organized was throwing everything in the bottom of his backpack.  Melissa seemed to be born organized but she spent far more time studying than necessary and her grades didn't show the results of her efforts.  Both Julie and Tim had tried to keep Josh more organized, but it ended up to be more nagging than anything else.  Julie had also given Melissa tips on how to study, but Melissa would always respond, "You don't have to tell me, Mom." Tim and Julie's kids are pretty normal not to want to take advice from their parents. They'd probably be open to learning good organizational and study skills from someone else.  Tim and Julie can then sit down with Josh and Melissa and help them stick with their new skills in ways they can all agree on rather than nagging.  
       It looks like it's going to be a good year for Tim, Julie, Josh and Melissa.  Is your family ready for a good year?  Do what you can to make sure this is the best year yet!

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