Recognizing Student Struggles 5 of 7: Identifying the Warning Sign--Homework

Is your child struggling with their homework. A new approach and an involved parent can work wonders for a child's success in the classroom. This is the fifth article in the Recognizing Student Struggles series.

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Homework can be tough enough for the student who isn't struggling. If you can't remember what homework is like, think of having to take your current work home with you. The assignments that your kids work on might seem elementary now, but for a child of any age, school is their career, and homework is the equivalent to taking their 'career' lessons home. Most parents know that taking work home in the evenings or on weekends is not fun. And those parents who work at home surely understand the discipline required to get things accomplished, and how hard it can be to harness that discipline when it's crunch time. But while homework can be challenging for all students, it's that much harder for a student who is struggling in school. They won't just feel challenged by her homework; they'll feel frustrated, even defeated, like there's no escape.

Make note of your child's attitude toward homework. It can tell you how they're coping with the material or the course load. All parents and their children find themselves at odds every now and then when it comes to homework. But there are some kinds of conflict that you can watch for in your child's attitude toward you and their assignments that can tell you if their problem is rooted in the overall lesson instead of just the assignment itself.

The purpose of homework is to give your child a chance to practice what they've learned in school, but if they didn't understand the lesson, the homework won't be practice or review. Instead it'll be as foreign as it was in the classroom, but with no teacher to help. Pay attention to how your child tackles her homework. Is there a subject that they usually avoid or fail to complete? Do you have to convince them that completing math homework really is necessary? Do they become upset if you mention a certain subject? These are signs that your student has missed something in school, which makes it difficult for them to feel confident or eager about completing lessons at home.

Another way to identify if your child might be struggling with their homework is by examining how the two of you interact on the subject. Is there a lot of conflict about homework time? If you find yourself fighting about homework, your child is most likely avoiding something. No one likes to fight, so when a child picks arguing with a parent over starting or finishing homework, that is a clear sign that the situation needs to be investigated further. Children learn the fine art of procrastination early. Picking an argument is one way to get around doing something they don't want to do. Putting off homework can also be your child's way of avoiding something that makes them feel insecure.

In addition to making note of how your child treats their homework and how they treat you when it comes to doing it, you should also pay attention to the verbal hints that your child might give you. If when you ask, 'have you completed your homework?' your child responds with 'it doesn't matter' or 'it's not going to help me,' consider that your child is being more than just flippant. If your child feels that they are getting nowhere with homework, then it might mean that they have been struggling with a certain subject in school. Consider it a warning sign and seek help for your student.

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