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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Math Geek Mom: Homework
October 28, 2010 - 7:37pm

I ran into a former student a few days ago who said that, since she took the required college math course, she is now better able to help her son with his homework. I had to laugh, because I often get into struggles with my own daughter about whether to help her with her homework, which she would rather not do in the first place.

My own students often come to me in my office hours to ask questions and to get additional help on the material presented in class. However, when it is time to sit down and do her own homework, my daughter usually does not want me to be involved. In fact, she does not want to do that homework at all, and it sometimes takes some creativity to get her to sit down and actually start her homework, especially when the weather is still fairly nice outside, and neighborhood children can be seen running around and playing. Her new school requires quite a bit more homework than her old one did, so there is an adjustment she needs to make to learn to make homework a priority. I would love to hear from my fellow readers about ideas that you have used to motivate your children to tackle homework on a nightly basis.

One approach I have taken to help her get motivated is to form a “homework club” in our living room, where she and one or two neighborhood children can congregate to do homework together. A snack and encouragement from me make the experience almost bearable, and worth it to the other children who would probably have not difficulty getting motivated by themselves.

Another approach I have taken is to tell her that I need to learn her spelling words. After all, it would be pretty bad if your mom could not spell as well as you could, right? I give her the list of words, and ask her to quiz me on them. In the process, she reads and re-reads the words, learning them herself. In fact, I think that I may have even learned a word or two along the way, since spelling has never been my strongest area to begin with.

I always check over her math problems when she is done with them, and, when necessary, ask her to re-do a problem or two. I had to laugh, though, when I found a problem that she needed to re-do, and she refused. She assured me that it was right, and that I just didn’t know that kind of math. After all, as she told me, a “big kid” at school helped her with that one, and “he is bigger than you.”

And so, dear readers, all experts in your fields, how do you handle helping your children with their homework, and how do you motivate them to do it in the first place? Do they respect you and your hard-won knowledge, or do they, like my daughter, assume that a “big kid” at school would know much more than you? I would welcome any ideas to help us make this adjustment to a school that requires much more homework than she is used to.


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