I was going to write an article on "4 ways to make homework fun". Realistically. I don't think thats going to be possible in many cases for either the student, or the parent that may need to help them. Homework can be a useful tool for learning, but I think often the kids are given too much and it's becoming overwhelmingly technology dependent. (Shouldn't we be doing more as mentors / educators to get them off the screen and engaging with the real world?)
Plus, it can be a valuable time for parents to spend with their children. However, it's also a drag on time for both parent and child and calling it fun, might be a stretch.
But, are there ways that we can minimize the time and optimize the experience while completing homework?
Here are some suggestions for parents:
- Accept more than one right answer (or approach). When assisting your child with homework accept that they might not use the same approach or have the same way of learning as you. Trying to force them into "your way", even if it's the "right way" may lead to frustration and animosity. Furthermore, showing them multiple ways to approach a particular problem may even help them discover their optimal way to learn.
- Keep sessions shorter to stay more focused. Everybody learns better when they are single-tasked (as opposed to multi-tasked). I've found this to be true in our adult and kids martial arts classes. If you provide homework help, make sure that your focus is one hundred percent on the topic so your child will be more attentive. Remember, if your child sees that you are not really into what you are doing, he or she will also think of other things. When you or your child is distracted, it may be more productive to take a break and revisit the assignment when you both can pay more attention.
- "Discipline equals freedom". A concept well elucidated by Jocko Willink. (I highly recommend Extreme Ownership) We all can get easily stressed with upcoming deadlines and the perception of "no control", especially children. So, it's important to provide them an environment where they can feel comfortable and relaxed to complete homework. Help them understand that a homework routine will help them avoid "running out of time" and actually provide more time for the things they want to do. Maintaining a clean space, free of distractions will also help them to this end.
- Use all three channels. We all learn through three primary channels: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic...by sight, sound and feel. However, people generally have a better way to learn. Ask your child to describe something they really enjoyed or were really good at. Listen to the adjectives that they use. Are they using sight, sound or feel type words the most? Also pay attention to their body language. That will give you some clues on what's their preferred way to learn.
Here are 5 Lessons from Martial Arts to help Children with their homework and schoolwork:
In our program and during our classes, you'll see us doing "mat chats" and spending time on what we were brought up as "Jung Shin Tong Il". Translated, this means "One Mind Single Purpose".
We've distilled this down in to five larger attributes we want the children to develop over the long term.
- FOCUS - A central point of attention or activity. The students practice this everyday in their martial arts class. They are working on one thing at a time and that drives to a clear accomplishment. This behavior is easily carried over to homework.
- DISCIPLINE - This is more than just following the rules. It's about doing the things that are easy not-to-do, even when no one is looking. It's easy to not go to class and catch up the material during review week, but it's better to go to class, get the material twice and go to review week. Similarly, it's easy not to do a little bit of homework everyday and cram it in right before the due date. But, we know, doing a little bit every day is much more optimal.
- CONFIDENCE - Assurance in one's abilities. I've found that the root cause of procrastination isn't laziness or lack of discipline. It is insecurity. It's a lack of confidence in the result once a task is completed. This is why developing confidence is such a corner stone of our children's martial arts program. Every step of the way, there are real attainments with real requirements to build them up.
- KINDNESS - "Keep a warm hear, be loving, compassionate and understanding of others." --> One of the primary tenets of Dragon Gym and the martial arts. At some point, we will all need help. And, the best way to get a hand is to give a hand. Kids surrounded with a supportive group a friends tend to do better in school as well. Kindness and gratitude lead to happiness over the long term.
- PATIENCE - An ability to suppress restlessness when confronted with delay. And, eventually patience can evolve into perseverance: the willingness to persist in spite of difficulty, obstacles and discouragement. During school, any beyond, our kids will face challenges. The inherent toil and occasional failure in martial arts training provides them with the tool-set to be more resilient and carry on.
President, Dragon Gym
"Be The Coffee"