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Values & Education

The Non-negotiable Pact: Homework

Everything comes at a price and so does the much awaited summer break. Yes, it is accompanied by homework (sob sob), many assignments and projects. These days even kindergarten kids are not spared from summer vacation homework. We spent our childhood doing that and now with an inexplicable form of deja vu, our children will be be doing the same. Just a while back, when summer break was about to begin, the WhatsApp group of mothers was filled with holiday homework queries.

My little munchkin who is all of five now, came to me questioning the objective of homework and also telling me how it is a world problem, relating it with his all time favourite cartoon character Nobita. School, on the other hand emphasizes how essential it is, how it helps in forming regular studying habits, revision of lessons and learning. In between my little munchkin and school, I am still clueless about the debate. Everyday my boy comes with a roster fixing his homework hours and ends up with ‘Mumma just last day, kal se pakka wala‘ attitude to defer his homework.

Most of the parents I know struggle with the same thing, making kids sit down and do their homework. It’s something like India-Pakistan peace talks – seems to be never ending. But then there are also exceptions like my niece who has developed a routine and ensures she does her homework by herself, except the few times when she needs help. In this entire homework saga that is such a routine at my place, my next door neighbour says – Ladke to hote hi insincere types hai, a little naughty and girls are cute, more sincere and obedient)

Now, my boy is the one who has to be bribed, pushed to do homework. Eventually I have to sit with him and get the work done forcefully, sadly having to play the monstrous mommy role. With my little bee I have tried all tactics – be it group studies, talking to his teacher, setting a designated time for homework, the carrot and stick approach – but all my efforts were short lived. Tired and exhausted with the everyday homework tussle, I gave up and it started affecting my relationship with my little bee. Yes it does, specially when you are a working mother and after a hard day at work you look forward to spend quality time with your family but that too is spend cribbing and scolding your baby.

It was high time now, there was something which I was doing wrong. Even the Chanakya Sutra of Saam, Daam, Dand, Bhed didn’t come to my rescue. It was my approach towards my kiddo and his homework that was screaming for a change. I thought, I discussed, I researched and came up with a better plan. This is what I did:

1. Staying calm: Keep calm and make him calm was my first mantra. I realized that I was letting my work stress and home stress affect my dealings with my child. I also maintained my cool and stopped yelling or screaming about his untidy work or the wrong answers he wrote. My negative tone was setting a wrong impression. Being polite and handling children patiently actually pays.

2. Homework time and expectations: Setting aside the same time everyday actually helps them do their work. They are well aware of what is expected from them. Mantra number 2 was understanding that every child is different and my little munchkin can’t study continually for long hours. He needed short breaks and that’s what we did. We planned our study schedule in a way that he didn’t feel it was boring or stressful.

3. Carrot and no stick: I know how a little appreciation once in a while helps me and how much more it was going to help my kid. Giving him small incentives for completing his work or getting good grades kept him motivated. He now focuses on doing his homework on time and doing it properly.

4. One on one talk: Kids really struggle with difficult homework. Instead of comparing them or labelling them, we should actually offer them sympathy and support. My kid who is otherwise good in all subjects, lacked in Maths. I spoke to him and spoke to his teachers too for giving him a little more attention and helped him overcome his fear of Maths. It’s important to find how your child learns best.

I have now stop being bossy. Kids today are way more smarter and want control in their hands. I now let him decide his hours of study and planning, serve him his favourite snacks and carry my daily dose of coffee before we begin our daily homework saga.

No child will ever love doing homework. We need to find the best possible way to make them work. They have their own strengths and abilities and we are the best guiding star. So keep calm and move on!

Mansi says: I am a Delhi based personal blogger and a mother to a five year old. I love to express my thoughts through my writings. I express, share and write about relationships and parenting in modern times and everything in between. So far, I have blogged for various parenting sites and brands. I also blog at lyflikedatmansi.