My son is 11...He can't study [by] himself, he acts like a child. If the teacher [says] that he is not doing his work, he does nothing about that. I keep telling him that he should push himself to be good; I can't keep pushing him, but still he does nothing. If I did not tell him, come to study, he wouldn't do it. He loves nothing but playing games. What to do?
From: Maya, Dubai
Many kids at this age seem to think that they are grown up enough to set their own rules. Of course, they aren't, but they likely are more capable of being charge of themselves than we give them credit for. It's important to convey a sense of respect for a child's new-found independence and to let them know we know they aren't babies and yet still to be in control. What often works with homework struggles is to write a homework contract together, where you both set out the problems -- you think he doesn't spend enough time on homework, he wants to be in charge of his own homework -- and then you both agree to some rules. Then you write them down like a contract: "Mom agrees to do x, y, z; child agrees to do a, b, ,c."
Before you begin, have a conversation about homework and school work in general. What grades does he want to see on his report card? What does he want to learn from school? Then talk about how that's going to happen. This is where the contract comes in. Here are some possible items:
He can play his games for 10 or 15 or 20 mins (that's the part you negotiate) and then he has to do homework for 15 or 20 or 30 minutes. Set a timer or use a clock so that you aren't the one saying, "OK, time's up. Get to work." A variation on this is that he does homework for x minutes and then gets to take a game break between subjects. Again, you need a timer or clock to manage this.
When does he do his homework? Does he want to do it as soon as he gets home from school? After he plays? Before dinner? After dinner?
Where does he want to do the homework? Some kids want privacy. Others want to be in the room where the family is. Either is OK.
Does he have all the tools he needs to do the homework? A desk or table? Good lighting? Paper, pencils, etc...
Child agrees to keep an assignment pad where he writes down the homework assignments for each day.
Mom agrees not to nag or ask about the homework. In return, child agrees to show finished homework before he goes to bed.
These are just some possibilities. Before you sign the contract, you also need a clause that says, "We agree to try this for one week and then to evaluate." At the evaluation, you can each mention problems you're having, but also be sure to mention what's going well.
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