My friend Connie – who also happens to be my daughter’s Sunday School teacher (and my sons’s Sunday School teacher last year) and also an elder’s wife in our church – is a gentle mommy! And so I asked her for advice on how to handle homework hassles with our children. Here’s what she said:
At our home, sometimes reluctance to complete a homework assignment, has an underlying hidden root. Perhaps there is a lack of understanding the material, or perhaps the assignment seems overwhelming in scope. Or perhaps there is truly just a lack of internal motivation.
I would encourage moms to carefully assess for the underlying roots of homework reluctance.
For example, last year my youngest son needed to memorize the multiplication table. Initially, he was very overwhelmed (and not very interested). As we worked at breaking down the task into bite sizes, he not only became more engaged but even enjoyed the practice sessions.
I learned something from that experience. Kids enjoy doing things they are good at. Kids do not necessarily enjoy doing things they struggle at.
As moms, we need to ask the question “Does my child truly understand their homework?” and “Does my child need help breaking this assignment down into more manageable parts?”
I like to compare this to playing catch with a young child. They don’t always “catch” the ball on the first try. However, as the ball is thrown over and over, they do begin to catch it (and enjoy it). Your child may need you to “re-throw” the ball of what their homework covered. Or your child may need you to “re-throw” the ball of thinking through how to break down the task.
I think there is value to being “hands-on” with your kids and their homework, as needed. This does not mean completing their work for them; but assessing why there is reluctance and “re-throwing” the ball where it is needed.
We all know there are also times our children completely understand the material, completely understand how to do the assignment and simply lack motivation. Thank goodness God provides our road map for life in the Bible! One of my favorite scripture verses is found in Colossians 3:23. It states “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Bottom line: My children are to work with all their hearts for God (including their homework) because God requires this of all of us. Frankly, I sometimes catch myself uttering this verse while scrubbing out a toilet in our house. We bring glory to God when we work with all our heart FOR HIM. God does not require perfection but rather an attitude of “working with all our heart”.
No two children, especially in the same family, are alike! Do not confuse attitude with ability.
On a final note, I frequently reinforce the following thought with our kids: Choices matter! A verse I pray regularly for my children is found in Proverbs 14:8. It states “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways.” How does this apply to homework and a good work ethic? Life is a process of training ourselves to stop and think about our actions and behavior. Am I doing my best, as to God? Am I working with all my heart? Did I make a wise choice in how I completed this task/assignment? I once heard a little poem that I occasionally tell my children. It goes as follows:
Good, better, best,
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
And your better is best.
Thank you Connie for reminding us to patiently “re-throw” the ball!