Frances Green asks "Is homework a breeze or a battle of wills in your house?"
Probably the most common problem I encounter between parents and their youngsters is that of homework. For some unknown reason many parents seem to recall that they did their homework in a bedroom, at their desk, in absolute silence. I suspect that they were not chained to desks in bedrooms – it’s just something that parents feel is appropriate and can cause a lot of arguments and ill feeling. In fact there are many children who crave a desk, a bright lamp and absolute silence in which to work. Then there are those who prefer to work at the kitchen table while Mum or Dad prepares the evening meal. They hate to be on their own and like a little background noise and an adult they can consult over tricky spellings. Moving away from the kitchen, some children like to lie on the floor with the TV or music playing in the background. As long as they are working this is fine. If they have a difficult task to do they will usually return to an upright position at a table. Think about where you want to be when you need to concentrate – do you need quiet or are you happy to listen to music too? Some children like to listen to music while working or even have the television on. If your child is working, leave well alone.
Rhian was causing her mother some problems because she wouldn’t do her homework at the appointed time in the designated area. Rhian was very different to her mother and I suggested that for a week’s trial period she let her daughter choose when and where to do her work in the evening. She chose the kitchen and worked steadily the whole week. Her mother was amazed and had to concede that the experiment had worked and as long as all the work was completed on time she would not interfere. Not only did Rhian continue to work in her own way but her relationship with her mother improved because they weren’t having so many arguments.
James on the other hand just wanted to be alone in his room enjoying absolute silence. He found any noise disturbing and in fact, when he was completing his Learning Styles Assessment found background chatter disturbing. He was meticulous in his approach to work and unlike many teens did not have an untidy desk or bedroom. He was highly motivated and so did not want to be disturbed by vacuuming or mother asking what he would like for supper, did he have a good day at school etc. Once he was ‘in the zone’ he stayed there.