“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”Lawrence Kasdan
““Grades matter,” I often told my little girls, ““but only as a stepping stone to getting to your college choice. Those grades are yours, not mine.” I often reminded them as they poured over their books. When my eldest daughter stopped receiving honors in her third grade, I asked her, ““Do you want to be an honor student?” She folded her arms and shook her head miserably. No, she didn’t want the pressure. ““Okay, fine. Get the best grades you can achieve.” My other girl seemed more driven, wanting to achieve higher grades. That’s the reality of school. Grades are needed to bring you from one level to another. How involved was I with my children’s homework?
I made it a priority to establish good and effective study habits starting at six years old. I bought study tables during their first grade, complete with book and paper organizers. The sturdy table lasted them till their early college years when I decided to discard it when we moved to a new home.
A study routine was set between dinner and bed time. It was early dinner at 6:00p.m. and study hours from 6:30 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. I stressed that they had to finish their homework or studies within that time frame so they could sleep at exactly 9:00 p.m. Television time was definitely out of the picture except for Friday night and the weekend. The girls never complained. They knew that television time will eat up their study hours. I also believed that once used to a study routine, it will be mutually beneficial for both of us. They learn good study habits and in turn , I will not get stressed out with their homework.
During their first till third grades, monitoring their homework was necessary to set the routine. If my child faced a difficult lesson, we both tried to solve it. I felt that I shouldn’t stress out over my children’s tasks. I also believed that parent involvement need not interfere with learning. For example, even if I am good in math, I did not want to confuse my children with the teaching techniques offered in the classroom. Their school used finger math, which is alien to me. Though the school taught the parents on the proper use of finger math, it seemed quite inefficient to me.
Parent involvement in homework can turn into parent interference if parents complete tasks that the child is capable of completing alone. Independence was what I wanted them to achieve. ““Try to solve it first,” I’d suggest. Much later on, I discovered that one of my girls had a weakness in numbers during her fifth grade. I resisted the idea of getting a math tutor. She used to be so smart in math. So what is the tutor for? I asked the school guidance counselor. I learned that if a child needs help, give it. So I asked my girl, ““Do you need extra help with math?” She nodded ““I find math so difficult. I need help.” I know now that If a child is having difficulty with homework, parents should become involved by paying close attention. She practically grew up with her math tutor until her last math course in college. By the time my girls reached their intermediate and high school years, they were pretty much on their own, following the study routine set since their first grade.
Maybe my second daughter loved studying or she just had many assignments but she asked for more extension on her study hours. I gave in to her wishes because I could see she was determined to ace her subjects. Unfortunately, her dad thought otherwise and would tell her to sleep if he caught her: ““That’s enough studying. You need to sleep”.
I never believed in giving material rewards whenever a child gets a good grade. My rationale was that the achievement of a good grade is incentive enough. Of course, there was the occasional surprise food treats at home. I wanted my girls to take personal pride in their achievement and that material gifts are not the main goal for studying.
Did the good study habits help? Their high grades surely brought them to their colleges of choice. More than that, the discipline and time management established by good and effective study habits helped them hurdle challenges in life. Mommy didn’t have to always solve every little problem. I smile as I watch my grown-up ladies from afar, now financially independent and making life decisions with our blessings.
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