Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sundays with Sarah (42)

To find out more about Sarah and this feature go here.

Hi everyone, welcome to another Sundays with Sarah the sporadic blogger on A Simple Love of Reading.

This week I want to talk about something that is affecting more and more youth today. With the increasing need for highly skilled youth to replace a lot of the aging workforce, more and more youth believe that they don't have to work as hard in school to achieve their dream jobs.

Someone, whom I know fairly well, is a hard worker but complains every time they have to do more and more school work. The list of excuses can seem endless: “I don’t have any homework today.” “My teacher never looks at my homework anyway.” “That assignment was optional.” “I did it at school.” If only your child could be that creative with their actual homework, getting good grades would be no problem!

Teenagers often insist that they have "no homework" even when they actually do, or tell parents that they’ve completed their assignments at school when they haven’t. If your child’s grades are acceptable and you receive positive reports from their teachers, congratulations – your child is doing just fine. James Lehman advises that students who are doing well have earned the privilege of doing their homework whenever and however they see fit. But if their grades reflect missing assignments, or your child’s teacher(s) tell you that they’re falling behind, you need to institute some new homework practices in your household. For those classes in which your child is doing poorly, they lose the privilege of doing homework in an unstructured way. For the classes they are doing well in, they can continue to do that homework on their own.

But the million dollar question is: "How do you get them to do homework?"

Most students don't like homework as they feel that because they are in school 8 hours a day that they shouldn't have to do it during their free time. True that some may have behavioral issues and or learning difficulties but for the majority, it is a lack of motivation. Sticking a torch under their asses doesn't work any better than bribing them to do their work.

Motivation is difficult at best to get your child to do homework. Confidence is another. When a child lacks both, getting them to study harder or pushing them might make things worse. Youth today do not comprehend just how much work they are doing in school compared to how much work is involved in the real world that they will do for the rest of their adult lives. School prepares us with the knowledge we need to achieve what we want to do in life. When external factors create barriers to learning or goals later in life, it lowers the ability to learn and decreases both confidence and motivation in teens. If they have the skills, and add in practice then they will become successful. No skills, no practice, and they will fail.

Fighting with your child to get homework done isn’t about having your child jump through hoops in order to get something they want. It’s not even about making them take something seriously, when they don’t see it that way. It’s about helping your child learn the skills they need to live life successfully. All of us need to learn how to complete things we don’t want to do. We all have occasions where we have to follow a rule, even when we disagree with it. When you create mandatory, daily homework time, you help your child practice these skills. When you tie that homework time to daily, practical incentives, you encourage your child to succeed.

Now unfortunately, we also don't live in a perfect world.

As I was saying earlier, external issues can cause additional stresses on your child that will make them less inclined to do their homework. Instilling old style beliefs on a child who is more caught up in a modern world will cause them to question your own practices. Sadly children today are so wrapped up in technology, social media, boyfriends/girlfriends, dating and popularity that they neglect the real reason why education exists in the first place. Youth that experience a form of mental, social, or psychological trauma use their feelings as a means of not complying. This can lead to a form of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) in where they just won't do what you ask. They will sulk until you give in.

Youth today, who actually do homework without complaining or being nagged by their parents might simply just do it because they want to get good grades (which in today's culture is not the normal case), and some youth, just don’t want their parents to get crazy and go postal at them for not doing their homework. Those are the parents that actually cause more problems in the end. As for those youth who just utterly don't want to do their homework, a child behavioral therapist named James Lehman believes that "it’s not that kids that aren’t motivated, it’s just that they are motivated to do the stuff they want to do. What they want to do might not involve doing homework, or more so, become overly defiant in doing it.

In today's culture, the biggest blame for kids not doing their homework: Social Media and technology.

Don't get me wrong, but although technology and social media have their uses, they are more of a priority for teens than homework.

Because a teen’s biggest and most priorities don’t always include doing homework, it doesn’t mean they lack motivation in general, because at times they are just motivated to not do homework either. Teens see things other than schoolwork as being more important. Social activities, dating, sports and part-time jobs often take up more of a teenager’s time, pushing homework to the bottom of his to-do list. The problem is that by the time teens enter high school their teachers give them more homework, and they need good grades to get into college or university or even more so, a career in a field they want to pursue. Most companies today want employees who have shown that they can do the work because, proving they have good grades is an indicator that they can apply themselves independently in a work environment, youth who have lower grades tend to been seen as individuals who cannot apply themselves and as such, can't apply motivation for the job they are in later in life. Ok that was more of a generalization because there are those out there with learning disabilities who are also very hard workers but lack the grades because of a barrier that would cause them difficulty in learning. Unfortunately, not all employers care about this as most employers only care about the corporate bottom line and fiscal investments, in other words, most companies care more about profit and money than the health and stability of their employees. Child development experts, say parents can help by explaining the benefits of why schoolwork needs to take a higher priority over other activities even though it takes time to do. Parents need to explain more of the reasons as to why preparing yourself now will get you better things in life.

Sometimes it is appropriate that teens may perhaps need some incentives to get them to buckle down and do their homework every night and why it is important to do so. Besides rewarding them with extra privileges for completing all their assignments, parents also need to make it understandable the consequences will be if they don’t study when they are supposed to. Creating rules for doing homework teaches teens to be more responsible and self-disciplined as they prepare for life in the real world. The "Focus on the Family" website points out that parents need to follow through on the rules and consequences they establish or else they aren't likely to see positive results.

Nagging your teen to do their homework can have the opposite effect from what you want. Instead of doing what you tell him to do, your teen might not do their homework and it will get to a point where it will just to infuriate the hell out of you. Sometimes, negotiating may help but at the same time it can also hinder. Parents need to make their children understand that although they might stop harassing them to do their homework, parents will still expect them to get it done on time. Give them a time to do their homework in which they are not allowed to be on the computer or talking on the phone with their friends until it’s done.

There is a reason why assignments in school have to be in on time. School prepares youth for many tasks and skills they need in life. Handing assignments in on time and completed is the same as handing in a business report, filing a claim before the deadline or even getting taxes in. Unlike school where sometimes teachers may extend the deadline to have an assignment completed doesn't necessarily work in the real world because once a deadline has passed, it can cost large amounts of money for that company, or even get you fired if your consistently not meeting deadlines for projects or tasks. This is but one major example as to why school is important. It isn't just learning about why Jacque Cousteau came to Canada, it's also about using skills of deductive reasoning, formulation of theories, understanding history and why things happened and how they have changed to even learning from mistakes of the past to benefit the future.

Teens who don’t like being told what to do, sometimes they use homework as a way to show their parents who is boss. Teens need to learn that, that level of thinking is wrong on so many levels. Imagine if you did that to your boss at your place of work? You'd be fired on the spot. In the case of homework and who is boss and who is ultimately responsible, your child -- not you -- is ultimately responsible for their education, all parents can do is help them learn to understand why it is important and also help guide them with homework Sometimes parents also need to learn and show by example. Sometimes but not all the time, giving your teen choices, yet at the same time letting them know that they are responsible for what comes of the choices they make and the consequences the come out of those choices -- good or bad -- can result in better decision making as a skill in their lives. Youth today are the ones who have the most to lose in the end if they don't do her homework.

They will not have as successful careers if they cannot apply themselves now, they will have lower self-esteem and confidence in what they can do and most of all their value of their self-image/worth will greatly be affected for a long time.

Although, a lot of this is good in theory, it is even harder in practice because of the way the world is changing. Technology doesn't make it any easier today as it was say 20-30 years ago. When I was a child/teen, we didn't have social media or even internet really. People talked on the phones and went out socializing instead of just texting their best friend that is sitting next to them. I have always said that one day technology will destroy the world. Not by the physical means but by the technology that we now take for granted. Teens today are more technologically savvy than their parents are and in a lot of cases, (and my personal opinion), believe that social media, and technology and the messages in media to youth create for them that education or homework should not be a high priority.

One thing I am grateful for, is that my parents did not always "bail" me out, but it was their way of teaching me that at times I need to make decisions for myself and not always relying on others to do things for me. Teens today rely too much on others to do things for them that in most cases, I don't think they can do things for themselves as they do not possess the skills needed to cope in the world. More and more teens are still living at home because the education system is no longer properly preparing them for the world ahead, but at the same time, teens today are no longer understanding the real importance of education, why homework is important, and why the world works the way it does.

Homework and school, teaches us many of the skills and tools that are needed in the real world. Maybe it is time for a change to go back to the basics of not just education, but educating youth in the world around us.

I know this as truth because I am very grateful for my own dad (David), who always told me why school was important and left it up to me to be responsible for my own work but at the same time, I am also infuriated that my parents didn't push me harder to do my homework. They may have always been there to help (seeing as my mother was a teacher herself and my dad in education), I still wish, they would have helped me understand back then why homework was important, or even pushed to help me with it. I might have been better off.

Anyways, thank you for reading, I hope to have another post soon...just don't know when as even I need to learn from my own saying of being "motivated."

Take care.

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