I Never Do Homework

I’m a mum to two daughters, now aged 15 and 22, so I’ve had my fair share of experience when it comes to homework.

I also have the benefit of being able to see, at 22, exactly what impact my approach to parenting has had. (Quite a scary thing at times.)

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One thing I have been pleased to see is that my decision not to force my children to do their homework definitely hasn’t left them with a shoddy work ethic. If anything, the opposite is true, which is one of the reasons I took this approach in the first place.

It wasn’t just laziness, honestly. Although that probably came into it a teeny bit.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that I actively discourage homework – I’m not trying to raise anarchists here.

Every evening I ask about homework, and make positive suggestions about why it might be a good idea to do it as well as it can be done. Ultimately though, I feel that it has to come from them – especially by the time they are in their mid to late teens.

Chiefly, it’s about ownership and responsibility.

What I don’t want to do is sit down every night and force them to do something against their will.

Not only will they feel less engaged as a result, but then they never get to experience the consequences of not doing it. I feel like they need to see this, to make them appreciate why it’s important.

Not doing homework for example might, in the short-term, lead to detention or a bit of public humiliation in class, but it will also have a long-term impact too.

If you get behind with homework, it can be difficult to keep up in class, and that’s a very stressful position to be in.

It also comes back to that much debated topic – the mental load.

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By constantly reminding and nagging your children to do homework, you’re taking on more than your fair share of the mental load.

They need to learn that no one is going to remember things for them – if they want to be successful as an adult then they need to step up and take on that responsibility themselves.

I want them to understand that pretty much everything in life is a choice, but that every choice they make comes with consequences.

They are free to take whichever path they choose, but they must be prepared to deal with what happens as a result.

That’s what parenting is all about isn’t it?

We can’t force our children to do things we want them to do as they get older, we can only hope that we’ve equipped them with the skills and the confidence to make good choices.

Jo Middleton is the creator of the award-winning parenting and lifestyle blogSlummy Single Mummy.

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  • 1

    Plan ahead to have free-time after school. If you have a study period, do as much of your homework as you can. The more you do while you are at school, the less you will need to do at home. Don't try to do everything at the last second.Try to do all of it in class (if time is provided), at lunch, or any other spare time you may have. This way you may also get help while at school, if you don't understand the work. Ask your teachers while they are available: they're there to assist you. Let them help you.
    • Put the hardest homework at the top of your list. Why? Well, this allows you to kick it up a notch! You can start, move on, and then continue re-thinking it (starting gives it a place in the "depths" of your mind -- an inventive part of your mind) and then going back to it, to do more, so you won't get too bogged down, but it will have priority for the subconscious mind to work on it! See, you don't have to get stuck in that problem -- that might take all of your time:

      Do a quick effort; make it a worthwhile try, then go onward to less demanding homework. Later, going back -- and seeing how you can improve the first one with fresh bits and pieces.

      Open "secret back-channels" -- just starting, even if you have to come back to finish, gets your creativity to kick in (this gets dark recesses of your mind to really work for you!). Creative juices can be inspiring, refreshing, helpful!
  • 2

    Break it down. Make piecework; quickly overview the topic: scan!

    ~ Read headings, intro, maps, charts, pictures, captions, bold or italic lettering, footnotes, and chapter summaries to get ideas and perspectives/angles for ideas to start yourself thinking.

    ~ Begin your answer to each problem and essay question, by doing parts! How? Make a first sentence or step, do any logical, little bits and bites (go step-by-step).

    ~ Add a second thought/step and another -- each flowing from the previous one. Going one phrase or sentence at a time makes it possible to write or do something.

    ~ Skip some lines, to leave room to fill in later -- if you need to move on to another area.

    To re-kick-start an answer: Read what you have already written/or have done to check it, and see what flows from there', to lead your thinking to your next thought/step, and so on.

  • 3

    Set goals and rewards. Once you've completed your goal and finished your homework, reward yourself with some little thing that you would find enjoyable and double after you finish. Save a special book to read when homework is done, or make plans to talk with a friend on the phone as soon as both of you have completed your assignments. Go on your favorite website, or even dedicate yourself to a great project you've always been wanting to do.
    • Take advantage of any holidays or vacations that may be coming near as a motivator. On a Thursday, remind yourself that it is almost the weekend, and the moment this homework assignment is done you'll be one moment closer. Remember that Thanksgiving, winter break, or summer break is nearing, and the moment your homework is done you can enjoy it to its fullest.
  • 4

    Avoid procrastination. The surest way to get over procrastination is to take care of a task as soon as you think of it - don't delay and tell yourself you'll do it later.
    • Think of it this way: if you procrastinate, you're spending time worrying about the task in addition to the time you actually do it. If you just take action and complete it as soon as you think of it, then you'll have more time to relax.
  • 5

    Work smarter, not harder. A fried brain absorbs little information. Break up your homework time into chunks. Take regular breaks. Set a timer; take a five to ten minute break for each hour you study. Get up, stretch, and move around. Drink water and eat a little fruit: water will refresh your system, and half an apple provides a better effect than a sugary energy drink.

  • 6

    Think of the consequences. What will happen, if you don't do your homework? Will you get a bad grade? Will your teacher be disappointed in you? If none of these things seem to apply to you, remember that homework is to help you learn, which everyone ultimately wants. In the real world, knowledge helps you master the rules of the game.

  • 7

    Think of the benefits. What will happen, if you do your homework? You'll probably get a good grade. Your teacher will appreciate your efforts. You have learned a great deal, and you'd be paving your way for a better life simply by putting your pencil to paper! Putting yourself in a positive state will reap in the benefits and ultimately surge you with the energy and hope to focus back on your work, and even enjoy what you're doing!

  • 8

    Find a place with less distraction. Set up your special study place. No friends, television, or other potential distractions should be present. Your homework place should also have a hard surface, like a table, to write on. If you need to do some of your homework on a computer, as many high school students do, make sure to avoid chat programs, unrelated websites, etc. If you have difficulty keeping focused, or awake, consider doing your homework at the library, at a table with some amount of foot traffic passing by it. The quiet atmosphere will help you focus, the surrounding mild activity will help keep you from falling asleep, and if you get stuck, there are those helpful librarians and references.

  • 9

    Straighten your desk/room. It's easier to concentrate on your homework when you don't have clutter in your workspace. Take five minutes to tidy up your immediate area before you get started.
    • Don't go on a cleaning binge as a way to procrastinate. Focus only on where you'll be working, and leave it at that.
  • 10

    Find a homework partner. Make sure this person isn't one of your crazy friends who'll distract you. Find someone to sit with who is quiet and focused. This will help you feel comfortable working, because someone else is working along with you. Just be sure not to end up talking more than working.

  • 11

    Create your own learning method. Everybody learns at their own pace and uses different methods to help memorize the material. Some find walking helpful, while others like to listen to music while they study. Whatever it is, experiment until you find something that seems to work well for you.

  • 12

    Listen to some quiet music (optional). Listening to music and studying does not work for everyone. If you are going to listen to music, try to listen to classical music or instrumental songs. Or if classical isn't for you, just pick quiet songs that you don't know, and start working, so you don't get caught up in the words.

  • 13

    Exercise briefly during each study break. It will help relieve tension, clear your mind, help you focus and make you feel awake. For example, walk around, stretch, do jumping jacks, or jog in place.

  • 14

    Make a routine. A routine will get you into doing homework as a habit. Schedule times and days so you are totally organized as to what you're doing this week, the next, and even the week afterwards. Surprises will occur, but at the very least, you know what you're doing!

  • 15

    Disconnect. Turn off your computer, phone, etc. that could distract you easily. Don't get wrapped up on the computer or phone on a break because you will not remember what you were learning about and it will delay your finish time. Stay away from them at all costs unless you must do the homework on the computer.
    • Put your phone, computer, and anything else that might distract you far from your reach. Then stay in a quiet room where you know you won't get distracted. Keep a timer for every 30 minutes to an hour, so you know how long you've been working and can still keep track of time.
  • 16

    Prioritize. Divide your homework according to your ability in the subject. If you're not so good, do it first. If it's an easy assignment, take a break and do it in 15 minutes or so, then get working again! If it's a long-term project, do it last. Not that it's not as important, but you need to save your time for the things with near-due-dates.

  • 17

    Get some success: you might prefer to get one or two easy tasks over-with at the start of a homework session, saving the hard stuff for last. Diving right into the hard stuff can be discouraging, and studies show that many people learn well when they start with easier material and work up to the harder stuff. Getting a few easy tasks done quickly can remind you of how good it feels to be productive. Some people, however are more motivated to dig into the hardest stuff first. It will make the rest seem like a breeze. Find out what works best for you.

  • 18

    Use simpler problems to find the steps to do harder solutions. Most problems can be broken down into simpler problems. That's a key to try on most math and science work and exams.

  • 19

    So what are you waiting for, get to your homework!!

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