Your Positive Attitude Can Improve Your Kids' Homework Performance

Family Matters on 09.12.11
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Photo: Squarpants2004/Creative Commons

Apparently it's not enough to just lock the kids in a room and not let them out until their homework is done.  This according to a study performed at Ben-Gurion University in Nagev, Israel. 

HealthDay reports that the study followed the homework habits of 135 fourth grade students and their parents, and found that when the parents tried to support and motivate their kids by emphasizing the value of the assignment, the students were more likely to complete the work than they would be if their parents focused on grades and efficiency. 

Other factors that contributed to kids' positive attitudes toward homework were parents giving them some sense of autonomy, such as the choice of when and where to do their assignments.

In a recent issue of the journal Learning and Individual Differences, the study's author, Dr. Idit Katz, reported, "Parents can improve a sense of competence by allowing children to structure their own tasks and by giving the child the feeling that [he or she] is loved and admired no matter how successful he or she is in math or language,"  

"Little formal research has been conducted about the home environment where homework is taking place, although it has been an integral part of education and is a controversial yet often used educational practice," Katz continued. "The home environment is just as important for instilling positive motivation as the school is."

I wanted to critique this study as asking a lot of parents.  In order to point out the educational value of an assignment, you need to not only be familiar with the material being covered, but also know how it fits into the teacher's plan for the whole unit.  Furthermore, you have to actually believe that it does have some intrinsic value.  But then I thought about the fact that the study was conducted on fourth graders.  It can't be that tough to keep up with their classes. 

I think the even more important implication of the study is that you need to teach your children to find the value in their assigments themselves, so that they will be able to stay motivated once they are studying stuff that you forgot thirty years ago.

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