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PortWatch

December 4, 2013

The Daily Parent: How to avoid the homework wars

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Daily Parent is a new column by Newburyport resident Lori Day that will focus on parenting, education, and other topics of interest to mothers and fathers. Day, an educational psychologist and parenting coach, writes about parenting, education, child development, gender, media and pop culture for The Huffington Post and other sites. It will appear regularly in the Port Home section.

In millions of households across the country, there is no greater drama than the nightly struggle to get kids to do their homework.

We’ve all seen “homework guidelines,” be they in self-help books, online or in school handbooks. There are so many of them that it can be confusing and overwhelming to the parent who is already confused and overwhelmed. In truth, there are a few simple goals and principles that are reasonably intuitive and enable informed decisions about homework supervision down the road.

Here’s how parents can help the “typical” child (without significant learning or behavioral issues) develop day-to-day self-reliance and, ultimately, strong lifelong study habits. The following four tips will help parents establish greater daily tranquility at the kitchen table, while propelling them toward one of the holy grails of parenting — the eventual removal of themselves from extreme homework supervision, a not-so-fun sport.

1. Understand and make peace with the fact that your children may hate doing homework. It’s just a reality that there are many more interesting things kids prefer to do, especially in the electronic age, and it is not always possible to make homework inherently appealing to them.

Accepting how your children feel about their homework is not the same thing as agreeing with them; it’s about adopting a mindset that allows you to modulate how you approach your child’s homework behaviors with basic empathy, while still setting rules, boundaries and reasonable expectations.

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