When learning is fun, children have fun learning. Turn your dreaded homework time into a relaxing, happy hour.
Dear Diana: My daughter recently turned 6 and started first grade. She is one of the youngest in her class. She is very social, and her teacher says she needs to be reminded to sit still and be quiet. Her teacher refers to her as her “little chatter-bug.”
I have confidence that she will settle in and develop some self control. My concern is her homework. She whines, complains and continually asks if her homework time is over. It has become a torturous time for both of us! She has spelling words to memorize and numbers to add.
She has simple stories to read with one or two questions to answer. Her homework drags on for hours. I would love to help make things easier and happier in our house.
Dear Mom: When learning is fun, children have fun learning. Turn your dreaded homework time into a relaxing, happy hour. Make the conscious decision to be your daughter’s cheerleader, always providing encouraging words and positive responses. Set homework time when she will be most successful. If that is right after school, always have a fun snack ready. Be creative with your healthy snack, which can be a daily surprise and a positive incentive to come to the table. Purchase a timer and let your daughter know that you will be working together for 45 minutes, unless she finishes all of her work — carefully and correctly — before the timer goes off. Keep her on a good pace. After each assignment, allow her to get up and run a lap in the backyard or stand in place and do jumping jacks for one minute. Those fun activities will help her to sit still during work time.
Be creative and make a homework box. Fill it with paper, crayons, pencils, erasers, and large items such as a dry erase board, letter and number magnets, a box of Alpha-bits cereal, sand or rice, some glue and pieces of cardboard (saved from cereal boxes). Use the back of boxes to dab glue and press on alphabet letters to spell out her weekly words. Drizzle glue and place rice on top to form letters. Encourage her to use the dry erase board to write swirly words with colorful markers. Use magnet letters and numbers on the refrigerator to compose words or complete her adding work. These are all multi-sensory activities that will keep her interested and engaged, with a higher learning potential.
Reading time? Get up from the table and cuddle on the couch. Take turns reading sentences, always checking for comprehension with what she is reading. When the story is complete, ask her the two simple questions as you head back to your homework spot. If needed, write her answers on her dry erase board for her to copy onto her paper.
Page 2 of 2 - Her teacher has labeled your daughter a chatter bug. Although that is a cute term, it is a label. Your daughter may easily interpret that label as a loving little name, and will have no incentive to keep quiet or learn self control. Go on a hunt together in your yard to find a little stone that looks like a lady bug. Get out the paints for your daughter to paint a beautiful quiet ladybug. Let her choose its new home, whether that is on her dresser or on the kitchen window sill. Be sure it sits where she can see it to be reminded of how important it is to be a quiet little bug in school. Encourage her to paint a second quiet little bug, which can sit on her teacher’s desk as a reminder for all the children.
Children can learn anything when they are motivated. Set her up for success and show her how much fun learning can be. These are valuable lessons that will last a lifetime.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting expert. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com or The Repository, c/o Family Matters, 500 Market Ave. S, Canton OH 44702. Find parenting resources at her website, www.yourperfectchild.com.