Dear Daughter. About Homework.

Homeward Bound square

Dear Daughter

Yeh! The second quilting square is complete for your “Dear Daughter” quilt and its time for my next letter to you. I’m glad you liked the last letter. (read more about the project here). I’ve chosen the thorny subject of homework this time.

I know you find homework boring and a chore. It cuts into your home time and reminds you of school. You find the threat of detention, if it’s not completed, a disincentive. They may offer you a carrot, but its this threat that sticks in your mind. Your thoughts about the teacher and the subject become less than flattering. I know you’ve received house points for exceptional pieces of work, so I suspect this is the intended incentive. The carrot that they offer you, but not enough to motivate you.

So, I thought I’d try to paint a different picture for you.

cutting out second square

Homework – better than you imagined!

You can do it. You are a bright child. If you set your mind to something, you always succeed. I’m not going to list all the remarkable things you have achieved. None of these school subjects are beyond your capability. You don’t need to take it from me alone. I have a pile of school reports that back me up. You can do it. Believe in yourself.

Time to practise. The whole point of homework is to give you a chance to practise a little bit more. Maybe the teachers are seeing how well you have understood. As your parent, it gives me a little insight into what you are doing at school, but the most important part is that you get more practise, or time, to investigate the subject in more detail.

using the tension holderusing a tension holder

Time to find out more. Not everything can be covered in class. There just isn’t time. Not everyone is grabbed by the same interesting fact as you. How long would the lesson be if everyone’s interests were followed through?

Homework could give you a chance to explore the subject that little bit more. Don’t be put off by the limits set by the lesson. My hope for you is that sometimes a fact might spark a moment of curiosity. I’ve seen this happen for you already.

sewing chain

It may have been a throw away comment from your teacher.  It may not be strictly within the remit of the homework, but the world is your oyster. If something is interesting, why shouldn’t you follow it up. You have access to the internet and we have a houseful of books.

Putting it off. It’s too easy to procrastinate about starting your homework. I admit, I am the same with some items on my To-Do list. We could tackle this one together. Let’s try to do it as soon as we get it. That evening. For you, the lesson will still be fresh in your mind. Homework tends to grow bigger and onerous, if left. Like some kind of cartoon monster. (So do To-Do lists)

If you do it straight away, it’s gone. No longer praying on your mind. That horrible nagging feeling. Gone. Leaving you lots of time to enjoy doing your own thing. If that’s not a carrot, then I don’t know what is.

carrot patchwork

As an added bonus, by doing it early, you give yourself enough time to do yourself justice. Rushing it just before bedtime, the night before its due in, is pushing your luck.  Do yourself a favour. Give yourself time and do it when you’re not using match sticks to prop up your eyelids. It is much easier and you’ll get a higher mark. A chance of a house point.

Make it into a habit. Like most things if you get into a habit of doing it as a routine, then homework too will become easier. It’s like magic. No longer will it feel like its biting into your time at home. (Picture biting cartoon monster from before) It will become part of your home life. Like giving yourself time to brush your teeth or feed the dogs. Just another thing that you do. Choose a set time, a set place and do it.

homework and square

Reward. If nothing else works for you then try my fallback method. Tell yourself that after you’ve finished, you will have a treat. It could be anything. Finish reading your book, play with the dogs or promise yourself a slice of cake (although you might want to warn me about that last one, so I can put it aside for you). Once the work is done, then treat yourself. If it’s a long piece of homework, then split it into stages and a small treat once each stage is complete. (How do you think I get through the day?)

So hopefully, you can see the picture that I’ve tried to paint you. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Try following my advice for a month and see the difference.

As always

Your loving mother

 To find out more about the Dear Daughter project and the list of letters, click here.


Joining in with Pink Oddy’s Motivational Monday.

14 thoughts on “Dear Daughter. About Homework.

  • Monday 31 March, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I am also trying to encourage my son to do his homework. As a child I was thoroughly in the camp of do it the night before and winging it. We have set him a homework timetable with the reward of a little computer time or going out with his friends afterwards.

    • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Good idea. I hope it works for him. I was away at school and we had set times to do it. Everyone did it at the same time and it was never a big issue. Her avid resistance is a new experience for me!

  • Monday 31 March, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    What a really positive way at looking at homework – bet many people could benefit from this post – thank you for sharing.

    • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Ha! Homework does get a bad name, but really it should be seen as a positive. 🙂

  • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 11:41 am

    I loved this post! So many good points about homework, which is something I’m just getting on to with my eldest in Year 1. I’ll remember your ideas for making it seem tolerable. Thanks!

    • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you, Jess. I’m hoping it helps to show homework in a different light.

  • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    This is a supremely cool concept, I’m really enjoying your posts and the reflections they are prompting.

    I’m 25 and left full-time education about four years ago. If I could go back to any of that time – school or uni – I would do way more ‘homework’. I think the homework rather got in the way of the education – I only saw the task that needed to be done, it felt like a chore, I just had to ‘get it over and done with.’ You know what? For those years of my life, my ‘job’ was to learn. To read, watch, explore, discover. It’s so easy to get blinded to the real purpose – learning – by the more tangible incentives/disincentives. (I also hated detention. We had to spend our lunch hours scraping chewing gum off the bottom of the tables in the library. Yuk.) What I didn’t see – and to be honest I don’t know if I could have seen it until I left education – was that the primary function is learning anything and everything, discovering who I could be and what I could do. It’s a process that continues your whole life, and homework is only the tiniest part of it. I do wish I hadn’t let the homework put me off the bigger picture – I might be in a job that impassions and inspires me, instead of one that interests me.

    I hope you’ll forgive the rambling!

    • Wednesday 2 April, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Labels applied to parts of our lifes are apt to limit. I really want to show my children that learning is fun and there is no conceivable ceiling to their learning. Often wonder if I have put them in the right education system, but I guess lots of parents have doubts like this one. Making the most and providing guidance, hopefully I will help to fuel their interests. Who knows where it will take them.

      ps not ramblings. definitely interesting thoughts!

  • Tuesday 1 April, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    That’s such a beautifully written post, and as I have 5 older children between 14 and 20, it all rings so true 🙂

    • Wednesday 2 April, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Thank you, Jenny. Sounds like I should be coming to you for advice. Hoping my children’s love of learning grows. They show signs every now and again. Fingers crossed.

  • Saturday 5 April, 2014 at 8:03 am

    We try to say the same thing to our daughter but yours is so eloquently writen that I’ll have to show her this blog post! She doesn’t get that much at the moment but she moves to secondary school in September when I’m guessing things will change.

  • Saturday 5 April, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I love your post. My son is only 8 but already seems to get too much homework. He gets so easily distracted that it ends up taking far too much of his time. I’m constantly repeating the same message that if it is done quickly then we have more time for fun things. Hopping by via #MBPW

  • Sunday 6 April, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Great article – I used to be the queen of putting homework off till the last minute!

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