Change homework stress to homework success in one easy step.


I hear it all the time –

“He just won’t listen to me”

“I have to spend hours helping with homework, I am exhausted”

“I have to show my child what to do.  What are teachers doing?”

“I have tried everything but nothing seems to work”

“Some of the assignments just don’t make sense”

“I am so tired. I want my life back”

Parents are exhausted, confused, upset because however much effort they put into helping their child with homework nothing seems to change.

These parents are doing all they can to help their children – but something isn’t working.  Despite their best intentions homework has become a battle ground.

And it needn’t be like that.

There is one simple reason why homework becomes a battle ground of wills.

Parents are not giving their child the type of support that meets their child’s learning needs.

We’ve all been there.

Have you ever had a computer glitch and had to work with someone on line or on the phone?  Have they ever given you instructions that you don’t understand or can’t work out how to use?

The conversation might go something like this:

Phone person: How can I help you today?

Me:  Yes, I just need to get the Internet working again

Phone person:  What is the problem, why isn’t it working?

Me:  I have no idea why – it just stopped working

Phone person:  OK, try refreshing your browser.

Me: What?

Phone person: Refreshing your browser will probably sort it out

Me: Ah, how do I do that?

Phone person: Just click on the refresh button

Me: What refresh button?

Phone person: The one at the top of the page.

Me: But there are many buttons at the top of the page….

… and the conversation goes on.

What was the problem? Why are we both getting stressed and frustrated?  Why is it taking so much effort to solve a relatively simple problem?

Because the phone person is not giving me the support I need.  She is assuming that I know things that I am not sure of (Refresh? Browser? Refresh button?) and giving me advice – good advice – based on her assumptions.

(By the way, I know what all these terms mean now but it took a while for me to learn them.)

The support she was offering was not the kind I needed.

Try this version of the same conversation:

Phone person: How can I help you today?

Me:  Yes, I just need to get the Internet working again

Phone person: Ok I am sure we can fix it – can you describe the problem?

Me:  It is stuck on one page and I can’t get out of it

Phone person:  OK, do you know where the button is to refresh your browser?

Me: I am not sure

Phone person: If you look at the space where the address is you will see either a small circular arrow or…   That’s the refresh button

Me: OK, I’ve clicked on it now what?

Phone person: Wait a moment then tell me what you see

Me: Ah, it is working now – thanks!

When the person on the phone gave me the support I needed (help with finding the refresh button) the problem was solved without anyone getting upset.

The trick is to know the kind of support that is needed.  Unless you are a teacher with loads of experience and skill in this field this can be very hard to discover.

For instance, children need four different types of support as they move through the learning process.  Knowing what type of support they need is the key to success.

The first and probably most important type is to foster their motivation to learn.  It is easy for students to lose their motivation – I am thinking of preteens here – but without having the desire to learn it becomes an uphill battle.

The words ‘motivation’ and ‘procrastination’ sound the same for good a reason.  Lack of one leads to an abundance of the other.

If your child lacks the motivation to learn he needs your support to rekindle that motivation or learning will continue to be a struggle and you will have an unhappy child.

This is such a common problem that I have created a course to help parents reignite their child’s motivation to learn.

The next type of support children may need is to know how to learn.  Children have to learn how to learn.  They have to develop the foundational skills that lead to learning.  If a child is not using or has not developed one or more of these skills homework help can be like flogging a dead horse, to quote an old Yorkshire expression.

Your child might want to learn – he or she is motivated to learn – but unless they have the skills they need to be able to learn (remember that refresh button!) nothing is going to happen.  Frustration rules.

If your child needs to learn how to learn you need to help him develop the skills he needs to make learning easy.  Until he develops the skills he needs he will never be able to learn on his own. He will always need your help to get his homework completed.  Your life will never be your own.

Let’s say that you know your child is motivated to learn, you know he or she has the skills that make learning possible but there is still an issue with homework.   You still can’t get through to your child and offer him the kind of support he needs.

I call this third stage of the learning process Making Sense of School.

In school we all had a favourite teacher. The teachers we liked were the those who taught the way we liked to learn.  They made learning easy for us.

Teachers teach in different ways.  Children learn in different ways.  When the way a teacher teaches matches how a child learns magic happens.  When a child is a different learner – someone who doesn’t learn the way the teacher teaches – learning becomes much harder.   He or she has to adapt what and how he is being taught to how he likes to learn.  Learning becomes a struggle.

The same thing happens at home.  If you do not match your support to how she likes to learn homework help leads to battles over how things should be done.

You need to change how you offer support to meet the learning style of your child.  If your child is a Picture Smart learner you need to SHOW her what to do.  If she is a Word Smart learner you need to explain the issue to her.  You need to TELL her what to do.

Now we come to the last stage of the learning process.  This is when students want to learn the facts and figures about a particular subject.

They have the motivation to learn (Stage 1), the skills they need (Stage 2) and know how they learn best (Stage 3).  In Stage 4 students master the subjects they are learning.  They Move to Mastery.

The type of help they need in this stage of learning usually comes from extra coaching or tutoring by someone who knows the subject well.  Tutors are great at offering this type of support.

Unfortunately, many parents rush to provide this type of support before checking whether their child needs any other type of support first.  They end up wasting money and time when tutoring doesn’t work for the child.

Four stages of learning – four different types of support.

Homework help becomes a hassle when the support you offer does not match the help your child needs.

So how do you know what type of help your child needs?

I think every parents knows when their child lacks the motivation to learn.  It is easy to recognize the signs – procrastination, lack of interest, avoidance etc.  What they might not realize is that until and unless they help their child regain their desire to learn any other type of support is doomed to failure.

It is more difficult to know when your child needs support in the other three learning stages.  However, I have created a simple, free check list of behaviours that can help you understand the type of support your child needs so you can avoid homework stress.

If you want to change homework stress to homework success you might want to check it out.

Four Stages Initial Assessment

You can use the assessment to work out what help your child needs or you can contact me for extra advice.

Here’s to happy homework!

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