Children, even those who may not be particularly academic enthusiasts, often are excited about returning to school after summer vacation.
But at this time of the year, when the holidays are over, the weather often is nasty and summer vacation seems an eternity away, even the best students can get into a slump.
Suddenly, children who are usually self-motivators may begin complaining about their homework or — worse — stop doing it altogether.
If this sounds like an all-too familiar scene, don’t panic. But don’t ignore the situation either. Make a plan of action and then have a serious discussion with your child.
Here are some tips that have worked for us and other families we know.
• Speak to your child’s teacher to get the true picture. Ask if your child is struggling in a particular area and how you can help.
Teachers are always happy to discuss ways to remedy or head off problems before they fester.
• If necessary, schedule a meeting with the teacher. One good friend of mine had a conference with her child and the teacher. Together, the three brainstormed for ways the child could remember to turn in her homework.
My friend said the system they came up with has been quite successful. No doubt because the child was a big part of coming up with the solution.
• Help your child stay organized. Make sure he or she is using an agenda. If necessary, ask the teacher to initial the book, indicating it has been checked.
• Buy some new school supplies. Remember how excited children are to buy school supplies for the first day of school?
Try letting your child pick out a new notebook or other items. This would also be a good time to examine the current notebooks and folders. Maybe their entire organizational system needs a checkup.
• Make sure your child has a quiet place to do his/her homework. Check supplies and re-stock if necessary.
All homework sites should have paper, pencils, pens, markers, glue stick, ruler and a computer.
• If your child is struggling with homework, and the problem is not academic but lack of motivation, try to come up with some type of “no-complaining” reward system.
If homework is done every day for two weeks with no complaining, the family goes out for ice cream or a movie.
Make a chart and have your child check off every day he/she does homework with no complaints.
• Take an interest in what your child is studying. Talk about what subjects you liked when you were that age.
Similarly, admit what you struggled with. My children all knew about my childhood struggles with math. My joke was always that when it came to math, I was not “smarter than a fifth-grader.”
By showing your own weaknesses, your children will realize that nobody can be great at everything.
• Start a reading club in your family. Choose a book that you can all read and then discuss during dinner.
The classics are great, of course, but try alternating who selects the book. Keep an open mind when they ask you to read their latest favorite.
This is the time of year many of us feel the winter blues. Most of us are tired of snow, ice and temperatures in the 20s. We’re ready for spring to hurry up and arrive.
Children can also get into a rut, so pay attention and be ready to help them step up when it comes to school.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.